Will Grier develops, takes over the reins as Florida's quarterback
Florida’s Will Grier likely will play quarterback in the NFL one day in the intermediate future, and we’ll all look back and wonder what all the fuss was ever about at the start of his collegiate career.
We’ll watch in awe as Grier calmly dissects opposing professional defenses with the kind of shocking ease that we first came to see on a consistent basis in Saturday night’s thorough 38-10 beatdown of third-ranked University of Mississippi at The Swamp.
And we’ll wonder.
How was it ever possible that “The Chosen One” — as Gators fans often referred to Grier as he redshirted in 2014 – was ever anything but THE starting quarterback at the University of Florida?
How was it that there was actually some doubt of Grier’s ability in some corners at the start of Grier’s redshirt freshman season? Or that there was really even a remote possibility that true sophomore Treon Harris might have emerged ahead of Grier in their competition for the starting job and instead been THE GUY?
The job had been Grier’s all along to win, with only the former high school All-American’s own inexperience accounting for the delay in his ascension to the throne.
Grier had the advantages over Harris in everything that mattered most to new Gators coach Jim McElwain. He’s bigger at 6-feet-2, 215 pounds, runs with more authority and boasts the kind of strong right arm that McElwain prefers for his pro-style offense that seeks to attack every part of the field.
Grier had been inconsistent as he become acclimated to college football, but there was no denying the progress as he went along. His play was anything but pretty in the Week 3 win at Kentucky, but he showed enough heart to come away with his first SEC road win anyway.
Grier followed that with another erratic performance against Tennessee, struggling for the game’s first three quarters before completing 11 of 17 attempts in the decisive fourth quarter to lead a frenetic rally from a 13-point hole to a memorable 28-27 come-from-behind victory.
In retrospect, it will have become obvious by the time he’s in the NFL that it was at that moment that it all first began to click, that it was then that Grier was no longer the starry-eyed college football novice nervously looking over his shoulder.
Harris had been suspended and unavailable against the Vols, but the outcome was inevitable. He and Grier both likely knew as much deep down, and McElwain probably did as well, even though he hesitated from publicly saying so.
The Gators coach wanted further proof for confirmation, and Grier delivered in grand style.
He was a maestro from the outset Saturday night, completing eight of his initial nine passes while showing the kind of cool pocket presence, grit and big-time arm that made him such a coveted talent coming out of high school.
Shaking off the flu that had been bothering for much of the week, Grier was masterful from start to finish, completing 24 of 29 passes for 271 yards and four touchdowns as the 25th-ranked Gators easily improved to 5-0.
No play embodied Grier’s newfound moxie more than his 36-yard scoring strike to Demarcus Robinson in the first quarter. He gamely hung in the pocket on the play, withstanding a ferocious hit from Rebels All-American defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche to complete the touchdown pass to Robinson that opened the game’s scoring with 9:09 left in the period.
It will be interesting to see what Harris chooses to do at the season’s conclusion because McElwain now has his man. And his name is Will Grier.
The coach’s stated goal upon his hiring last December has always been to “restore the order” and return the Gators to their perch atop the college football landscape.
Looks as if he’s found himself the quarterback to do just that.