Thoughts following WVU’s spring drills and the Easter break:
n• As even casual football fans know, it’s extremely difficult to find a good college quarterback.
Look around the country. Look back in the record books. Even powerhouse programs like Alabama and LSU have difficulty finding star QBs. The NFL, meanwhile, is so desperate to find them you’ll see teams overreaching on draft day for projects like North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky, etc.
Also, check when West Virginia had success in the past. There was Oliver Luck. There was Jeff Hostetler. There was Major Harris. There was Jake Kelchner. There was Marc Bulger. There was Pat White.
And now there’s Will Grier, possibly the next WVU standout. When I asked Mountaineer coach Dana Holgorsen to assess his QB after Saturday’s scrimmage, he responded by saying he looked pretty good and turned it back on me, asking what I thought.
What I thought was Grier was indeed impressive, albeit, understandably, controlled on Saturday.
“He’s as good as advertised,” the coach, who has seen much, much more, went on to say.
“He throws it hard,” said safety Shane Commodore. “He’s a good quarterback. He’s a smart quarterback. He knows where to go.”
My thoughts are Grier will benefit more when 6-foot-1 receiver Ka’Raun White is back on the field. And if the receiving corps can grow (in other words, if Jovon Durante, Marcus Simms and Steven Smothers can step up to join White, Gary Jennings and David Sills), WVU’s offense can be very potent in 2017 — especially with Justin Crawford running the ball.
Yet one little warning: West Virginia fans should also mentally prepare themselves for the possibility Grier is a one-and-done QB in Morgantown.
The redshirt junior Florida transfer was a rising star in the SEC before his suspension from the NCAA. He was a four-star recruit that had very good numbers as a redshirt freshman and helped the Gators to a 6-0 start, including a nice rally against Tennessee.
These days, Florida coach Jim McElwain is having to explain why he allowed Grier to depart. Serious media “spin” is underway in Gainesville. But, in sum, the kid is talented. He’s playing a position the NFL seriously covets. Oh, and his Twitter account proudly displays his newborn child.
You understand what I’m saying.
n I received an email from a reader who said he was disappointed in WVU’s spring game attendance of 6,415 and asked that I compare the figure to others around the Big 12.
Well, it’s somewhat difficult because a handful of teams didn’t even list attendance in their stats. For comparison, though, Oklahoma had 43,723 at its game — and was disappointed. The Sooners understandably see themselves in the same company as Nebraska, which had 78,312, and perhaps even Ohio State, which had 80,134.
Among the Big 12 numbers I did find were Iowa State (estimated at 15,000) and Texas Tech (around 12,000).
So perhaps it is disappointing from WVU’s standpoint. But I usually shrug it off — whether the subject is West Virginia or Marshall — because of the uncertain April weather in the Mountain State. More times than not it’s chilly, which may explain why spring games here never gained popularity.
n A name that kept popping up during WVU’s spring drills was 5-8, 193-pound sophomore Jovanni Stewart from Katy, Texas. And lo and behold, after the spring scrimmage, there was Stewart atop the defensive statistics with five tackles.
Of course, spring scrimmage stats mean little, but the sophomore continues to make noise. It’ll be interesting to see if Stewart winds up behind Dravon Askew-Henry at free safety instead of behind Kyzir White and Marvin Gross Jr. at spur.
n And finally …
A gem of a quote from Mountaineer linebacker David Long that made me smile.
Do you like a player with a little vinegar? Long is your guy.
He said this after I asked about the linebacker corps, which should be a WVU strength:
“Pretty much like last year,” Long said. “Athletic and talkative. We all like to talk out there and get stuff started. We’re aggressive. We like to win.”
Departing WVU receiver and “stuff” stirrer Shelton Gibson would be proud.