MORGANTOWN — While Kyler Murray seems like a suitable replacement for Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield as the starting quarterback at Oklahoma, imagine if Will Grier were leading the Sooners instead.
It’s a scary proposition for WVU fans. Not only would the Mountaineers be without their star senior quarterback, but they’d have to face him instead to end the regular season.
Now it’s a distant memory, but when Grier decided to transfer from Florida, following his year-long suspension for taking a banned substance, one of the first schools that came to mind was Oklahoma.
The biggest reason was that then-offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley — now the Sooners’ head coach — was in need of a quarterback. It was uncertain whether Mayfield would have one or two seasons of eligibility left following 2015. Trevor Knight was heading out as a graduate transfer, Justice Hansen also decided to leave and Cody Thomas gave up football, leaving Riley short-handed.
There were several high-profile candidates that season, including Grier and the exodus at Texas A&M involving Murray and Kyle Allen.
It just so happened, though, that Riley and Grier had a previous relationship while Grier was in high school at Davidson Day, in Charlotte, N.C. Riley was then the offensive coordinator at East Carolina.
ECU is also the alma-mater of Grier’s father, Chad, who played quarterback there from 1989-’90.
“I knew [Riley] when he was at ECU when I was really young,” Grier said. “I’ve always thought really highly of him. He’s a great person. I have a lot of respect for him and his knowledge of the game. It’s really cool to see how far he’s come. I pull for him except for when they play us.”
But Grier chose WVU, hoping to avoid a drawn-out process, so he never took time to visit Norman.
“The timing of it was kind of weird,” Grier said. “I wasn’t familiar with transferring and I never planned on transferring. It’s a little different now from when I did it. It wasn’t a very big process when I was doing it. I kind of fell in love with Dana (Holgorsen) and this program and shut everything else down pretty quick, just because I was happy with what we had here at West Virginia.”
While Grier didn’t end up at Oklahoma, Murray came aboard.
Riley hasn’t officially named Murray this season’s starter, but the odds are certainly in his favor. Grier and Murray could be destined for a showdown Nov. 23, in Morgantown to end the regular season.
Both transfers have worked with current WVU offensive coordinator Jake Spavital — who was Texas A&M’s offensive coordinator in 2015, while Murray was a freshman with the Aggies.
“I know Kyler really well, and Kyler obviously is a great player that Spav had at A&M, which is another interesting relationship,” Grier said. “They have a good one in Kyler and he is obviously a really talented dude. He’s a pretty explosive guy and fun to watch. I think that kid’s awesome.”
This season will tell who really won the great quarterback transfer battle of 2015.