MORGANTOWN — Through film study, passing drills, offseason conditioning and the occasional magazine photo shoot, Will Grier’s summer also features a nightly 7:30 appointment.
That’s bedtime for his 19-month-old daughter Eloise. And in her eyes, Daddy already owns the Heisman.
“I really like sitting with her before she goes to sleep and then putting her down,” said Grier. “There’s not enough hours in the day, you know, but I always make time for her.”
Just as hugs and cooing and goofy smiles have become trappings of the Grier household, so goes the fawning of the national media over West Virginia’s star quarterback. Sports Illustrated rated him the 22nd-best overall player in college football and Athlon’s knighted Grier the nation’s No. 1 QB. If only he could trade preseason accolades for diapers.
“Handling (media) is part of it, and I’m proud to represent West Virginia,” he said. “I don’t mind speaking on behalf of this football program. It’s an honor. I look at it as a great opportunity to be a voice for this place.”
After the crush of media that scrutinized each game at the University Florida, even a burgeoning Heisman campaign at WVU seems sleepy by contrast.
“It doesn’t distract me or stop me from doing anything football-wise,” he said. “I’m just trying to get the team together and win as many games as we can.”
The Athlon’s cover for which he and David Sills posed won’t rank high for machismo, because neither could muster an intimidating glare.
“I’m not a mean-face guy and Sills is not a mean-face guy, so all we could do was smile,” Grier said. (Sills smiled even wider when he heard his mom ordered four copies of Athlon’s only to receive the regional cover exalting Stanford’s Bryce Love.)
Comfortable in the limelight, Grier spends some of the most important moments in obscure corners of the Puskar football building, “tweaking things” with offensive coordinator Jake Spavital. It’s the first time since high school for Grier to play consecutive seasons under the same coordinator, and the two-way trust they’ve developed could make the Mountaineers’ offense more reliable in 2018.
Though West Virginia ranked 20th in yards (459.6) and 22nd in scoring (34.5), it lacked situationally efficiency — plummeting to No. 111 in third-down conversions.
The quarterback faults himself for not trusting the running game enough, and there’s plenty to improve upon from a 7-6 season Grier (and his broken finger) weren’t around to finish. If the upcoming team has an earmarks, Grier points to the rich chemistry. Focused as he is on self-scouting footwork and deconstructing play calls, he enjoys the time spent with defensive teammates lifting and training.
“There’s a lot of good people, people I like to be around,” he said. “They push me and it’s a healthy program we have right now. That makes coming to work kind of easy.”
The cover boy relishes all the responsibilities of being a team captain, save one. Grier said coaches haven’t leaned on him to host recruits, because “They understand I’m hosting a daughter at home.”