Will Grier's been a Gator. You didn't need National Signing Day to reveal that much to you; he's been on campus since January. It's everything else about him that fascinates.
Grier's been a Gator longer than every other member of the 2014 recruiting class; he was the only recruit from the class to commit in 2012, in fact. And though he committed to Florida in December 2012 back when Brent Pease looked like a genius — Florida's last game was that 37-26 thumping of Florida State — he was the most solid recruit throughout 2013. No one else was (sub)tweeting this (at Dalvin Cook and Ermon Lane):
Grier was the real deal back in 2012, when he looked like the No. 1 QB in the 2014 class after his record-setting junior season at Davidson Day School in North Carolina. Grier threw for 837 yards in a 104-80 game (of football) that year, eclipsing the national high school record for passing yards in a game; that record, and most of the ones Grier would have set in high school, isn't recognized, for reasons that boil down to the politics of high school football in North Carolina. Grier still finished his 2012 campaign with 69 passing touchdowns and 5,785 yards, and a state title.
And though he would essentially repeat his 2012 and add to his incredible list of accolades in 2013 — 4,989 yards, 77 touchdowns, state title — and starred at camps like Nike's The Opening, concerns about his weight and throwing motion — a three-quarters delivery that's more Philip Rivers than Peyton Manning — helped keep him just out of contention for consensus five-star status. He's still the nation's No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the 247Sports Composite rankings, behind Texas A&M early enrollee Kyle Allen, and the No. 3 quarterback behind Allen and Clemson early enrollee Deshaun Watson, and No. 48 player in those same rankings.
And, well, watch the first play of this highlight compilation — in which Grier evades three rushers, drops back 20 yards, and throws a 50-yard dime on the run — and you'll kind of get it.
Watch all the other highlight compilations, and you'll really get it.
There are many more videos, for the record; I don't want to slow down this page.
Grier comes to Florida with a pedigree that triangulates (rectangulates?) the last four primary Gators quarterbacks. Like Chris Leak, he's a record-setting prep quarterback out of North Carolina. Like Tim Tebow, he's the sort of hard-working leader who gets lavish praise and respect from teammates. Like John Brantley, he's a national player of the year who played for a small private school and carved up small private schools, which prompts concerns about his ability to do the same in the SEC. And like Jeff Driskel, he was the unquestioned star of a new high school football program that he has led since its inception, and has significant, surprising athleticism for a quarterback billed as a pro-style passer.
There's obviously cause for celebration and concern in that pedigree. Any comparison to Leak is fine by me; having any of Tebow's heart and will is a good thing; being placed in the same sentence Brantley probably worries many; being freighted with the same worries about an adjustment to college defenses that were present (and have been borne out as valid) with Driskel probably petrifies some.
But I think Grier's a rather sure thing, and I don't think Will Muschamp would have been quite as effusive in his praise of Grier on National Signing Day — he's "doing an outstanding job" and "you see he's got all the intangibles to be successful as far as the leadership things and positively affecting guys around him" — without thinking something similar. The primary question, for Grier, is less "Will he become Florida's starting quarterback?" than "When will he become Florida's starting quarterback?"
Those same concerns about weight apply here: Grier says has bulked up what was a spindly frame to near 200 pounds, and certainly looks fairly solid in this Instagram shot from this week.
But Grier will also have to adjust to the speed of play in the SEC, and the disparity between small-school football in North Carolina and a game against Tennessee is probably larger than the one any other 2014 recruit save Wyoming product Taven Bryan faces.
Grier will also have to battle Skyler Mornhinweg, who has started games at Florida, and Treon Harris, battle-forged by games against elite South Florida teams, for the backup role behind Driskel — who is Florida's starter at QB, barring injury, as disappointed as some may be to hear that. Fortunately, Grier was totally fine with redshirting as of September 2013, Harris has significant positional flexibility, and Kurt Roper's offense is likely to feature multiple quarterbacks; the chances of a quarterback competition mirroring the one between Driskel and Jacoby Brissett are slim. And if one happens, it will probably not go down in the exact same way, as some hierarchy is likely to be established prior to a season under a new offensive coordinator.
There's no doubt that Grier is a tremendous quarterback prospect, and arguably the best passer Florida has reeled in since Leak. He's got a few great tests before him, from figuring out how to apply his natural leadership skills to best serve this Florida team while preparing himself for action that might not come for a while to beating out another excellent prep quarterback for the starter's job when the time comes. How well he performs those tasks will largely determine how great he becomes, and will largely depend on how hard he works.
I suspect a lack of hard work will never be an issue for Will Grier.
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