Grier Geared Up For Return As WVU Meets Hokies

Grier Geared Up For Return As WVU Meets Hokies

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — It is difficult to put yourself in Will Grier’s shoes this Sunday morning as he rises for the day of days in his life, for few have experienced anything like he has experienced.

I will try to put it in terms the most common of us can understand. You are an avid golfer, your game improving week by week, month by month until you reached the point that playing scratch golf wasn’t just a dream but, instead, a budding reality.

And then your job transfers you to a place where there is no golf.


Not a course within 1,000 miles … not even a miniature golf course.

A year goes by. A year and a half. Almost two years.

Then the phone rings and you learn are being transferred to Georgia … Augusta, to be exact, and the job includes membership at Augusta National.

So you move in and wake up that first morning, tee time is 8 a.m. You stand there, look down the first fairway, see the pines and the green and pure white sand of the traps.

You are Will Grier, the West Virginia quarterback, the one-time national high school player of the year, the hot recruit at Florida who won your first five starts before being suspended for inadvertently taking a banned substance, and you are — as they say on TV — ready for some football.

“He’s ready to go,” his coach, Dana Holgorsen, proclaimed this week. “There’s a lot of talk about him and a lot of talk about him being able to finally play football again. It’s been a year-and-a-half, almost two years, I guess, to where he hasn’t played.

“He likes to play the game, he likes to practice and prepare, likes to get out there and compete.”

Surely, you’d rather hear it straight from Grier than from Holgorsen, but Dana has protected him from the media, put him off-limits at least until he plays a game and who knows when after that.

But at least now you know he’s geared up and ready to debut … and Holgorsen is eager to see just what he has.

It’s one thing to watch a player practice, quite another to see him when there are people in the stands and a hungry pack of dogs chasing him wearing different uniforms.

“I’ve never seen him in a live situation. I’ve seen him in plenty of practices and watched him on video as far as the live stuff goes, so I’m anxious to finally see him in a live setting to where he can cut it loose a little bit,” Holgorsen said.

“He’s our quarterback, so our job is protect him with how we call things. His job is to be able to play within himself and run the offense the way we ask him to do.”

Holgorsen’s anxiety might be doubled by that of Jake Spavital, who has been brought back to WVU by the head coach to groom his star quarterback. His reputation is as much at stake as is Grier’s and he, too, has never seen him in live action.

Spavital’s words eerily echo Holgorsen’s.

“Grier, just being around him, he is ready to play,” he said. “To be honest with you, he has been sitting around for about a year and a half now. He is pretty eager to get back into the swing of things. He was 6-0 as a starter at Florida and he wants to get out there and see if he has still got it.

“He is a coach’s kid, his demeanor and his whole presence about everything; the way he approaches the game, the way he is approaching the game plan has been very professional. I am pretty fired up to go watch him do his thing.”

That thing, of course, is totally different than Skyler Howard’s thing. Howard, his predecessor, was a blood-and-guts quarterback, a Texas gambler, where the picture you get of Grier is a cooler, more calculating, more precise technician at the position.

He will pass from the pocket, but that does not mean that he will be a statue back there.

With him, the pigeons will have to hit a moving target.

“I have talked about this before, he is very agile,” Spavital said. “He can extend plays; he has great footwork. It is kind of deceiving how fast he is in terms of going out of the pocket and extending plays. That’s the thing that has been the most impressive for me.”

That could be important right away, for Virginia Tech’s defense is always aggressive and this version of it is experienced and said to be better than the one that helped the Hokies to 10 wins last year.

There is, however, really only one fear with Grier.

Will there be rust from the long layoff?

“There could be,” Spavital said. “It’s Game 1. You don’t know what kind of offense you are going to be. You can figure it out quickly. If he has a little rust, I don’t think it will last too long.”

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