By Joe Schad, GateHouse Florida
MOBILE, Ala. — There were lots of tough questions for former Florida quarterback Will Grier at the Senior Bowl following Tuesday’s practice.
Grier, who finished his career at West Virginia, was grilled about why he skipped his last bowl game, why he tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug when in Gainesville, and perhaps more importantly to NFL scouts, if his arm is strong enough.
Grier, a possible second-round selection in the next NFL Draft, replied with moxie, passion and spunk.
“I don’t understand some of the things that have been put out there,” Grier said. “I’m the best quarterback in this draft. I think my arm talent is there. My play will speak for itself.”
Grier is lumped into a solid quarterback class with players like Jarrett Stidham (Auburn) and Ryan Finley (North Carolina State), behind Drew Lock (Missouri) and Daniel Jones (Duke), who are more probable first-rounders.
“I am confident in my abilities,” Grier said. “Ask my receivers. Ask the guys at Florida. Ask the guys I played against if my arm strength is a problem. You know. It doesn’t necessarily make me mad. I think my play speaks for itself. That’s part of why I’m here. I hope people can see my arm strength out here.”
Grier transferred to West Virginia after testing positive for Ligandrol, which he said he received over-the-counter. Surely every NFL team, including the Dolphins (with whom he says he’s already met) will ask for an explanation.
“The story is out there,” Grier said. “It was an unfortunate thing that really hurt me. I poured my heart and soul into that program. I wanted to stay there. I poured my heart and soul into those teammates. I led by example there. I pride myself on outworking everybody and it was really rough on me. I feel like I let my teammates down.”
Grier seemed willing to take a drug test right out on the practice field.
“I’ve been on thousands of drug test lists since then, never had another issue,” he said. “That’s just not who I am. And I would never let me teammates down in any circumstance again. That’s one of the things I learned. Moving forward, it’s a non-issue. Any organization that gives me a chance will get me. And I’ll pour my heart into the organization and do whatever it takes to win football games.”
Grier received some criticism for skipping West Virginia’s bowl game to begin preparations for the NFL Draft. For this, he provided an explanation.
“I actually tore my ankle up in the Texas game,” he said. “Didn’t really put that out to the media. But it was pretty rough the last few games. And Dana (Holgoresen) and I sat down. I was planning on playing for about a week. I was getting treatment and preparing to play and me and Dana sat down and he thought it was best to get Jack Allison some reps. And get some younger guys some reps in the bowl game. He knew how important it was for me to get healthy and chase my dream.”
Grier is listed at 6-foot-2 and some question how his success in the Air Raid offense will translate to the NFL. There have been some questions about his mechanics. But he does deliver an exciting, fearless style of quarterback play.
Grier also possesses a certain magnetism that presents almost immediately.
“I take leading very seriously,” he said. “I think I connect with guys on a personal level. With everybody. I try to pull guys aside 1-on-1 and talk with them. Get on the same page. Make sure they know I care about them and I’m doing whatever it takes to get this team a win. And I think also that I lead by example. I think for the entire team if you’re doing all the little things right then everybody else will follow.”
Grier was asked if he feels he got a “raw deal” while at Florida.
“It doesn’t really matter to me,” he said. “People can form their own opinions. It was part of my journey. It was some adversity I dealt with and came out stronger on the other side. And I appreciate that.”
Joe Schad is a sports writer for the Palm Beach Post.