The Dominion Post  

WVU’s Grier back with no restrictions in spring

Created on:   Fri, Mar 2, 2018   9:11 PM

Last modified:   Fri, Mar 2, 2018   9:10 PM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — It’s a sight that will stick with WVU players, coaches and fans for a long time.

After diving for the pylon against Texas on Nov. 18, quarterback Will Grier walked toward the sideline with his middle finger on his right throwing hand pointed in a direction it shouldn’t have been.

The Mountaineers were 7-3 and hoping to finish the season strong, but Grier did not return versus the Longhorns. He had dislocated his finger and broken his hand, which required surgery and knocked the junior QB out for the rest of the season.

WVU went 0-3 to finish the 2017 campaign, including losses to Oklahoma and Utah where the Mountaineers tried a little bit of everything from the quarterback position, including running the “wildcat” with Kennedy McKoy and Justin Crawford.

Grier’s importance to the offense was evident, and when he announced he was coming back for his senior season, it gave hope that 2018 could be the year WVU competes for a Big 12 championship.

But what about his hand?

Three months later, head coach Dana Holgorsen said Grier is a full participant in spring practice, which began this week.

“He took the month of January and they started throwing with him,” Holgorsen said. “It was interesting in talking to the doctors and all that. You can say that he’s good, he can grip a ball, so just go ahead and start ripping it, but if you don’t use these muscles up here (shoulder) for about six months, then you need to be smart, because if you get out there and start ripping it around without these muscles developing, then you can do some real long-term damage.”

Similar to a pitcher in baseball, starting slowly was key to rebuilding Grier’s right shoulder to full strength. His pitch count grew throughout January and into February, and Grier is now back to where he was before the injury.

Holgorsen said Grier “looks good physically, he sounds good mentally. He’s exactly what you want in a fifth-year senior. Things are just slower to him, and he’s out there coaching those other quarterbacks, Jack Allison and Trey Lowe. He’s out there coaching those guys up, which is what you’re after.”

The quarterback room shrunk from five to three over the last week. David Isreal announced via Twitter that he was leaving the program, and Holgorsen said Chris Chugunov, who took the majority of the snaps in Grier’s place last season, will graduate and move on from the team.

That leaves Allison and Lowe to battle it out for the backup job. Allison sat out last season, after transferring from Miami. Now a redshirt-sophomore, he impressed on the scout team, following a path similar to Grier, who transferred from Florida to WVU.

Allison looks “good,” Holgorsen said. “He’s tall, spins it around pretty good. He is still young, hadn’t played a lot. He did a good job on scout team for us all year. It gives us another option at quarterback. I will say this: I figured out if you don’t want short quarterbacks, don’t recruit short quarterbacks. Not to say I don’t. I have had some great short quarterbacks that have been excellent. But, those three look different than what we have had.”

Allison is listed at 6-foot-6, while Lowe is 6-2. Lowe, a true freshman and early enrollee, was a 4-star recruit, but also had other intentions when choosing a school. He wanted to play baseball and is also a member of the WVU baseball team, which traveled to Myrtle Beach, S.C., last weekend for a four-game set.

Offensive coordinator Jake Spavital told Lowe not to worry about football after his trip south, but the newcomer didn’t listen.

“The thing that is amazing with the kid is that he wants to do everything, and I’ve got to tell him he can’t,” Spavital said. “I told him not to even come in to the office. We’re going to be meeting, but I told him he can catch up on things some other time. He came anyway, and he looked like he was running on empty, so we sent him home.

“He’s such an eager kid and he always wants to be a part of it, and we’d like for him to have more time with us, but at the same time, he’ll catch up. As time goes on, he’s going to get more comfortable with things.”

Holgorsen said Lowe can do as many baseball-related things as he wants, as long as it doesn’t interfere with football, but may make an exception if he has a chance to play in a game.

“I’ve talked to Randy (Mazey, WVU’s baseball coach) about this, but he’s pretty important to what our future is here,” Holgorsen said.

Developing quarterback depth has been an issue at WVU, and it became an issue at the end of last season when Grier went down. Continuing to develop Allison and Lowe — for a worst-case scenario again, in 2018, and the post-Grier era, in 2019 — is crucial.