Hurricane Florence impacts West Virginia players off the field

By Alex Hickey

MORGANTOWN — Will Grier doesn’t give a hoot about what Saturday’s canceled game against N.C. State means for his Heisman Trophy campaign. West Virginia’s senior quarterback has the perspective to realize what is actually at stake — namely, the lives of family, friends and total strangers who find themselves directly in the projected path of Hurricane Florence.

“I’ll be relieved if everyone is safe from the storm,” Grier said just minutes after N.C. State and West Virginia officials announced that the game was off. “I’d obviously like to play this game. But you can’t control everything. You have to adjust.”

For Grier, this isn’t just news. It’s personal.

His father, Chad, is the football coach at Oceanside Collegiate Academy, which is just north of Charleston, S.C. As the school’s name implies, it is very much susceptible to the hurricane’s path.

Grier hadn’t even had a chance to talk to his dad yet about his plans to deal with the storm.

“I’m going to call him,” Will said. “They are evacuating the Charleston area.”

Grier’s mom, Elizabeth, is seemingly in the clear in the suburbs of Charlotte, which is some 200 miles inland. But the possibility of heavy rains and flooding in that area don’t have Grier resting any easier. The Weather Channel described Florence as posing “a disastrous inland threat” due to rainfall.

“North Carolina doesn’t get a whole lot of hurricanes, so I think everybody is kind of nervous and scared,” Grier said. “It’s a big storm. I always advise to take precaution. Especially my mom with where she is at. If they need it, they know we have room [here].”Grier isn’t the only West Virginia player with North Carolina connections. Running back Kennedy McKoy is from Lexington, N.C., which is about 100 miles west of Raleigh.

“I talked to my mom a little bit, but my family doesn’t seem to be too concerned about it,” McKoy said.  “I don’t think where I’m from is supposed to get it that bad.”

Wide receiver David Sills V is one of the few Mountaineers with first-hand hurricane experience. Sills, a native of Wilmington, Del., had a brush with Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

“I think my power was out for like three days or something like that,” Sills said. “It’s not as scary as a tornado or earthquake because it happens over time. But a constant storm and high winds are definitely scary as a kid.”

Though some N.C. State fans have taken the attitude that the Mountaineers are attempting to duck the Wolfpack, linebacker David Long expressed disappointment that the game won’t be played — as well as concern for those in storm’s path.

“The team as a whole was excited to play this game,” Long said. “N.C. State is 2-0. A good team. I thought it would be good for us to go down and play. But prayers out to Carolina and the stuff they’re going through. Hopefully it’s not as bad as it looks.”

For each Mountaineer, the answer seemed to be the same. As great as it would have been to get in a quality non-conference road test, they recognize that it’s not as important as what faces the people in Florence’s path.

“We’ve seen what storms like this can do to places. It’s nerve-wracking for everyone involved,” Grier said. “I’m hopeful that everybody is safe. That’s my first concern, is everyone’s safety.”

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