Posted on June 20, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The West Virginia Mountaineers received some great news on Tuesday with regard to the upcoming football season. Quarterback Will Grier, the presumed starter in Morgantown, has been declared eligible by the NCAA for the start of the 2017 season. West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen made the announcement via Twittter Tuesday morning. Ironically, the good news comes as the entire state celebrates West Virginia Day on June 20.
Grier sat out all last season at West Virginia after transferring from the University of Florida. However, it was still unclear whether he’d be declared eligible to start the season after being given a one-year suspension midway through the 2015 season after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
Grier sat out the final six games of the 2015 season at Florida. But it was still unclear whether or not he’d have to sit out another six games in 2017 to complete the suspension. West Virginia pursued a special waiver from the NCAA so that the year Grier sat out as a transfer could count towards his suspension. The NCAA has granted that waiver, believing that a season and a half away from the field is enough punishment for Grier, even if he wasn’t technically eligible anyway last season.
Of course, even before getting the official word from the NCAA, Holgorsen and the Mountaineers have spent the entire offseason assuming that Grier would be the starting quarterback when West Virginia opens the season September 3 against Virginia Tech in Landover.
Grier burst onto the college football scene as a redshirt freshman at Florida during the first half of the 2015 season. In six games for the Gators, he completed 65% of his passes and threw for over 1,200 yards. He tossed 10 touchdowns to just three interceptions while helping Florida to a 6-0 record. But just when the Gators thought they had found their savior at quarterback, Grier was hit with a suspension from the NCAA.
Those six games with the Gators nearly two years ago have led to massive expectations for Grier with the Mountaineers in 2017. His impressive performance during the West Virginia spring game in April only added to the excitement surround Grier in Morgantown. For the now redshirt-junior quarterback, the feeling appears to be mutual.
“It’s a great place,” Grier said of Morgantown. “There’s a passion for football here. I love Dana’s offense, the strength staff is the best I’ve been around in the country. They really helped develop me. It’s just felt like home, man. This is a great place with great people.”
Holgorsen’s offense is known for throwing the ball all over the field. Both the head coach and new offensive coordinator Jake Spavital feel that a gunslinger like Grier can be the perfect fit for their scheme. They are particularly excited about his mobility and leadership abilities. Grier is equally excited for his opportunity to orchestrate the West Virginia offense.
“It gives me a lot of freedom,” Grier said earlier this spring. “(Spavital) has confidence in me getting us in the right play and executing that play. With reps and learning the guys I’ve got and getting in the right play, it gives me the opportunity to get us in what I want to and not just calling a play, going to the line and having one or two checks. I can really call whatever I want, just based on flow and how everything’s going.”
Under Holgorsen, the Mountaineers have struggled to compete at the top of the Big 12. But after last year’s 7-2 conference record, there is renewed optimism in West Virginia. With Grier now being ruled eligible for the start of the season, there is great hope that the Mountaineers are ready to hit the ground running and do big things in 2017.