Football

Former Davidson Day QB Will Grier: ‘I felt like I was being pushed away from Florida’

FILE - In this Oct. 3, 2015, file photo, Florida quarterback Will Grier warms up before an NCAA college football game against Mississippi in Gainesville, Fla. A person familiar with the situation says Grier has been suspended indefinitely for violating the NCAA's policy on banned drugs. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the school has not announced the decision. Grier is considering an appeal. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 3, 2015, file photo, Florida quarterback Will Grier warms up before an NCAA college football game against Mississippi in Gainesville, Fla. A person familiar with the situation says Grier has been suspended indefinitely for violating the NCAA's policy on banned drugs. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the school has not announced the decision. Grier is considering an appeal. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File) AP

Former Davidson Day quarterback Will Grier hasn’t played football since he accepted an NCAA suspension for using a banned performance-enhancing supplement in October 2015. At the time, he had led Florida’s Gators to a 6-0 record as a redshirt freshman.

All the potential that he showed as a national high school player of the year -- a guy who once threw for 837 yards and 10 touchdowns in a single game -- was beginning to shine through.

Then came the suspension, a year away from football and a transfer to West Virginia. On Thursday, Bleacher Report published a first-person account, directly from Grier, about his experiences of the past 12 months.

“Sometimes I catch myself staying up at night,” Grier said, “thinking about everything that has happened over the last year. I’m not usually that kind of guy. Someone who lives in the past.”

Grier said Florida coach Jim McElwain told him he had to leave. There were reports, at the time of Grier’s suspension, that he had put on 40 pounds since enrolling at Florida. He said he went from 188 to 210.

“That’s a weight gain of 22 pounds from January 2014 to September 2015,” he said. “The story that I gained 40-something pounds just isn’t true. It’s laughable.”

He said he started using protein powder to gain weight and after a few trips to a Total Nutrition store in Gainesville to get more, a clerk suggested he try Ligandrol, a supplement that can help athletes add bulk. Grier said he searched on the Internet to make sure it was legal by NCAA standards but did not check with Florida’s trainer. Ligandrol is a banned substance and it showed up in a random drug test after Florida beat Missouri to improve to 6-0.

Grier said McElwain called him into his office, said he failed a drug test and that he would suspended for a year.

“I was crushed,” Grier said. “I thought something had to be wrong. We went and held a press conference. That’s when it all started going bad. I read stories that I left the team, that it was my decision. It wasn’t. Coach McElwain was telling the media that I was eligible to practice with the team while telling me I didn’t need to be around the team at this time. I felt like I was being pushed away from Florida.”

Grier said after making the decision to leave, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer recruited him the hardest, but he liked that West Virginia was closer to the Charlotte-area where his family lives. He’s appealing to be eligible for Week 1 in 2017.

“I am a person who looks forward,” he said. “I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason, and I’m in a good place now. It has taken a long time, but with the help of my family and my new coach and teammates here at West Virginia I feel stronger than ever...I’m twice the player I was when I left Florida. I think everyone will see that come next year.”

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