The redshirt junior quarterback is coming to Morgantown with plenty of hype surrounding him and rightfully so. Grier started five games in his freshman season at the University of Florida and saw action in the first game of the season where he completed 16 of 18 passes against New Mexico State. Following that game, he was named the starter by head coach Jim McElwain. After leading the Gators to a 6-0 record, the NCAA had come down with a one-year suspension on Grier for testing positive for an over the counter performance enhancing drug. McElwain and Grier had a meeting together which seemed as if he was being pushed out the door and forced to transfer, which is when Grier decided it was in his best interest to look elsewhere to play. Grier was quoted saying that Ohio State recruited him the hardest but the offensive scheme of West Virginia and relationship he developed with Dana Holgorsen is what brought him to the Mountaineers.
Can “Willy G” live up to all the hype the fans are putting on him? It is very likely, although sometimes our expectations as fans can be a tad bit unrealistic. To link Grier with the Heisman Trophy without him playing a single down is unfair, but with his talent and football IQ it’s easy to see why fans are setting their hopes so high. There have been tremendous quarterbacks to play at West Virginia like Major Harris, Marc Bulger, Pat White and Geno Smith but I do not think there has been more hype for a players first start under center like there is with Grier. The athleticism he displayed at Florida is something that has this fanbase buzzing. He had the ability to create plays with his feet and throws high percentage passes with occasional shots down field.
Grier came to West Virginia with still 6 games remaining on his suspension and was told by Coach Holgorsen not to worry about it and that everything would take care of itself and boy was he right. Mountaineer fans got a big gift from the NCAA on West Virginia Day (June 20th) that his suspension had been uplifted and regained eligibility immediately. Now with Grier able to start week one against Virginia Tech, this gives West Virginia a chance to really shine in the national spotlight. With the Mountaineers coming fresh off a 10-win season and a polished quarterback there is a lot to be excited about in the 2017 season. Grier will have two years of eligibility remaining and many Mountaineer fans including myself are hoping he stays both years.
Chugunov enters his third year in the football program and appears to be heading into fall camp to be the backup to presumed starter, Will Grier. Chugs nearly had his redshirt pulled in 2015 midway through the season when the team hit a 4-game skid and then starting QB Skyler Howard was struggling. Well, at least that was the rumor being floated around. He has incredible arm strength and can really unleash the deep ball effortlessly. He finished 10/22 for 98 yards in the Gold-Blue Spring Game back in April and showed glimpses of what he could do. The one thing I would like to see from Chugs moving forward is consistency. During the spring game he was streaky, he looked sharp for a while then would struggle then looked average. Chugunov has all the talent in the world to potentially be a starting quarterback for the Mountaineers in the future but will need to develop and mature under Grier and get Jake Spavital’s system nailed down to a tee.
Isreal is the newest addition to the quarterback room as he transferred in from Butler Community College this past spring and enrolled at West Virginia in June. Isreal threw for 1,841 yards and 13 touchdowns as the starter in 2016. I would not expect Isreal to see any playing time this year as he is sitting behind two guys who have been in the system for at least 1-2 years. He also needs to sharpen his accuracy as he threw 12 interceptions in 12 games and had a completion percentage of 52.1%.