West Virginia's quarterback tradition has been something of a mixed bag historically. We've had a couple of legitimate household names like Major Harris and Pat White, guys who in addition to their prodigious individual talents were also able to lead our team to success on the national stage. There are guys like Jeff Hostetler, Marc Bulger, and Geno Smith who were bona-fide stars in their own right, but never really took our team to that next level. Then there's a whole handful of guys who were decent enough for us to remember them fondly (Skyler, Clint, 'Sheed, Brad Lewis, Studstill/Kelchner), and probably a handful more who's names are just as well left to the history books.
The situation has been particularly rocky at times during the Dana Holgorsen era. Following the departure of the aforementioned Smith, we seemed to limp from one average quarterback to another (with our results unfortunately but predictably following suit), and Holgs rightfully caught some criticism prior to 2017 for his inability to lure top QB prospects to Morgantown despite his reputation as an offensive guru. To his credit, he's made the best of it, but the fact of the matter is that we haven't really had a guy that united the fanbase since Pat White in 2008. Until now.
2018 West Virginia Mountaineer Quarterbacks
|Trey Lowe III
I have a fairly active imagination, and if I'm being honest, it ran a little bit wild when I first heard that we were getting Will Grier. After all, I'd watched him take apart Tennessee and Ole Miss as a freshman at Florida; now he was somehow coming to West Virginia!? It was unprecedented, but I don't think that even I, in all of my homerific glory, could've predicted just how good he was going to be for us last year. Just check the numbers: 64% completions, 3490 yards, 9.0 yards per attempt, and 34 touchdowns against just 12 interceptions (and at least half of those weren't his fault), and all in just over 9 games. Grier was especially effective when attacking down the field - according to PFF he's the 2nd highest rated P5 returner for throws traveling more than 20 yards downfield, and was actually on pace to break the season record for deep passing yards by our 10th game of the year.
However, the best part of the Will Grier experience wasn't even the numbers. It was very clear early on, even from the outside looking in, that this was a guy that everybody on the team immediately rallied around, and by all accounts he's a natural leader. He calm demeanor even prompted the now-graduated Kyle Bosch to say, “He doesn’t have to act like he’s something special, he just is." That's literally exactly the kind of stuff you want to hear about your QB. Grier's season was ultimately cut short by a freak injury sustained while diving for the pylon against Texas (just a tremendous competitor), but he showed more than enough both on and off the field last year to have Mountaineer fans chomping at the bit for September 1.
As West Virginia fans we're used to uncertainty when it comes to our depth at quarterback, but this is the first time in recent memory that that uncertainty might not actually be cause for concern. The primary back up for now appears to be 6'5 junior Jack Allison, who's in his second year on the Grier Career Development Plan after transferring to Morgantown from Miami and sitting out a year ago. The absence of a 2018 Spring Game means the public still hasn't gotten a look at Allison in a game situation, but the pedigree alone (4* recruit out of HS, went to The U) will be enough to make most fans optimistic. We obviously don't want to see too much of him this year, but if he is called into action I think we can expect him to be an upgrade over what was available in 2017.
The other guy in the mix is Trey Lowe, a 6'3 true freshman from Tennessee. Lowe brings a bit more athleticism to the position than Allison, and if rumors are to be believed, he has an absolute howitzer of a right arm. He's likely to redshirt this year behind Grier and Allison, but his arrival in Morgantown should give fans confidence that the position is in good hands for years to come.
Video Credit: LoHo Highlights