Just a few days after a former Charlotte-area high school star proved he was up to the Heisman-hype, another Charlotte-bred quarterback proved that he was the player everyone remembered him to be.
On Thursday, former Rock Hill Northwestern QB Mason Rudolph threw for 303 yards and three touchdowns and proved that his Sports Illustrated cover in the preseason -- and the talk of a Heisman trophy run and possibly top 5 NFL draft pick -- wasn’t misplaced talk.
And on Sunday night, former Davidson Day All-American Will Grier played his first game in nearly two years. Playing quarterback for West Virginia, he was just as good as Rudolph was a few days prior. Grier completed 31-of-53 passes for 371 yards and three touchdowns as West Virginia ran up 592 yards total offense.
Virginia Tech beat Grier’s Mountaineers 31-24. The game ended with Grier throwing two balls in the end zone that might’ve forced overtime.
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It was the first time that these two rival schools had played since 2005. Virginia Tech got to keep the Black Diamond Trophy that has been traditionally awarded to the winner. West Virginia hasn’t won it since 2003. The return of the rivalry delivered perhaps the best college football game of the weekend -- and two signature performances.
Virginia Tech redshirt freshman QB Josh Jackson threw for 235 yards and rushed for 101 more. He accounted for two touchdowns. The teams scored 38 points in the second half and the game wasn’t over until Virginia Tech survived a long final drive in the final seconds from the Mountaineers -- and those final two passes that might’ve forced overtime.
But certainly one of the biggest stories of the night was Grier.
“I’m impressed with Will Grier,” said ABC commentator and former North Carolina and Texas coach Mack Brown.
Twitter, as usual, was alive talking about his performance.
After transferring from Florida, disgraced by a supplement scandal, Grier looked like he hadn’t missed a day, throwing pretty deep balls and throwing into tight windows, looking every bit like the guy who was national high school player of the year in 2013.
Grier red-shirted his first year of college football at Florida in 2014. In the fall of 2015, he was the Gators’ starter and a media darling, leading Florida to a 6-0 start and a top 10 national ranking.
Then, everything changed, Grier failed a drug test because of a banned supplement, and he eventually left Florida feeling unwanted.
Next, he turned up at West Virginia, got married, had a baby and found his mojo.
Grier looked poised against a top 25 national team on a nationally televised game on a night when his team and Virginia Tech were the only show in town. Everybody was watching. Grier looked awful comfortable in the spotlight. He left more than a few Florida fans wispy, and Grier’s performance coming on the heels of Florida’s 33-17 thrashing at the hands of Michigan Saturday -- a game where Florida got two defensive touchdowns and was outgained 433 yards to 192 -- probably made watching him play that well even harder.