MORGANTOWN — The hype train surrounding WVU quarterback Will Grier is beginning to pick up a lot of steam as the talking heads begin the approach toward the college football season.
From being touted as a top pick in the 2019 NFL draft to one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy, Grier caught the attention of the national media for his performance as a junior last season with the Mountaineers.
It seems to be the perfect storm for Grier and the WVU offense, with two of his top three receivers back, as well as a loaded and experienced offensive line. The stars have aligned, but as previously mentioned, it’s hard not to compare the 2018 offense to what Geno Smith had in 2012. That season didn’t end the way many thought, so will Grier go down the same path?
Vegas has Grier’s odds of winning the Heisman at 12/1, tied for fifth.
As if most May talk around college football isn’t premature enough, let’s dive into totally hypothetical situations as to why Grier will and why he won’t be in the thick of the Heisman conversation come December.
— Name recognition: Grier became a household name as a freshman at Florida for getting the Gators off to a 6-0 start, but that was derailed when he was suspended for violating the NCAA’s drug policy. Regardless, each situation put Grier in the national spotlight. With his big season last year coming off his suspension at WVU, he proved he is the real deal and may have won back support.
— Weapons: A quarterback is as good as his wide receivers and offensive line, and Grier has the whole package back. His top pass-catcher, Gary Jennings, and No. 1 touchdown catcher, David Sills, are back. Yodny Cajuste, Josh Sills, Matt Jones and Colton McKivitz, all starters along the offensive line, have one of the most experienced units in the Big 12.
— Legs: Many people don’t know that Grier can run when needed, and he proved it last season on several third downs. While that drive ended up costing Grier when he dived for the pylon against Texas and broke his throwing hand, he can still make plays on his own.
— National spotlight: With 2018 being an even-numbered year, the Mountaineers will have a lot of the Big 12’s biggest programs at home, and will also play in a neutral-site game to start the season, against Tennessee. Grier will have plenty of chances to shine on national TV — and he’ll have to if he wants to stay in the Heisman conversation.
And here is why Grier won’t be there come December.
— It’s really, really hard to do: A player has to be near-perfect in order to stay in contention, and the team has to win. This is what Smith struggled with in 2012 — the defense struggled, and the offense pressed. Smith was a favorite to win throughout September but fell completely out of the race when the team took a big bump. Grier had a three-game stretch — Baylor, Oklahoma State and Iowa State — where he threw nine touchdowns and five interceptions. Four of those picks came in an ESPN game versus the Cowboys. That won’t cut it this year.
— Non-traditional power: Playing at WVU, rather than at Florida, where Grier originally started, could hurt his chances. A comparable winner would be Baylor Robert Griffin III, in 2011. Having to beat out the likes of Stanford’s Bryce Love, Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Georgia’s Jake Frohm will be difficult to do.