GAINESVILLE – Suspended quarterback Will Grier will never play again for the Florida Gators.
Grier has opted to transfer, a source confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel. The Gators later used their Twitter account to confirm Grier's exit first reported by Scout.com.
Grier currently is serving a 12-month suspension for violating the NCAA’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Grier still was allowed to practice with the Gators but had not done so since the Oct. 12 announcement, where the 20-year-old fought back tears and said, “I’m really, really sorry to everyone.”
Coach Jim McElwain said last Tuesday Grier would not practice with the team in preparation for a Jan. 1 matchup with Michigan in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. But during a meeting late last week, McElwain and Grier decided the redshirt freshman from North Carolina would rejoin the Gators Jan. 5 to begin offseason conditioning.
In a statement released by the school, McElwain said Grier had a change of heart.
“Will came to me about exploring his options to transfer,” McElwain said on the program’s Twitter account. “We will support him and help him in any way we can. This has been very difficult on him and obviously he is looking for a fresh start.
“We will always be there for him as will all Gators.”
Grier, 20, had hoped to return by the beginning of next season. But last month the NCAA rejected Grier’s appeal to reduce his suspension to just the 2015 season.
If Grier had returned to UF, he would have been unavailable until an Oct. 15 visit from Missouri. In his absence, coaches would be focused on developing the quarterbacks available, while Grier would not handle any significant practice snaps.
Grier, therefore, would not be ready to immediately step into a meaningful role and would face essentially a lost 2016 season, regardless.
If Grier lands at another Football Bowl Subdivision school, he will have to sit out a season under the NCAA’s transfer rules and would return in 2017 as a redshirt junior. He then would have to serve the remainder of his suspension, or the first six games of the season.
Grier also could opt to attend junior college in 2016 and play immediately as a redshirt sophomore. But if he decided to return to the FBS level, the six-game suspension would remain in effect.
With Grier suspended, the Gators offense increasingly has struggled with sophomore quarterback Treon Harris. Harris could not get Florida in the end zone during a 27-2 loss Nov. 28 to Florida State and led UF to one during a 29-15 loss in the SEC title game against Alabama.
The Gators were 6-0 and 42nd nationally in passing offense at the time of Grier’s suspension. The 6-foot-2, 201-pound Grier led the SEC with a completion percentage of 65.8 and was the first Florida quarterback to pass for at 200 yards in three consecutive games since Tim Tebow in 2009.
With Harris at quarterback, the Gators (10-3) are 5-3 and are now ranked 78th of 128 in passing offense.
Harris has completed 49.2 percent of his passes as a starter with seven touchdowns and five interceptions.
With Grier out of the picture, Harris will compete next spring with Oregon State transfer Luke Del Rio and incoming freshman Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask, who are each expected to enroll early.
Grier is the sixth quarterback to transfer from UF in the past three years, joining Jacoby Brissett (N.C. State), Jeff Driskel (Louisiana Tech), Skyler Mornhinweg (Columbia), Max Staver (Houston Baptist) and Tyler Murphy (Boston College).