Will Grier’s roller-coaster career at Florida is over.
The suspended redshirt freshman quarterback is transferring from the program, sources told to the Miami Herald.
Florida later confirmed the report Saturday afternoon, with first-year coach Jim McElwain releasing a statement saying, “Will came to me about exploring his options to transfer. We will support him and help him in anyway 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.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Just six days ago, McElwain said Grier would return to all team activities on Jan. 5 after Florida plays Michigan in the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day.
Instead, the quarterback will never suit up for the Gators again.
Grier led UF to a surprising 6-0 start — including 5-0 as a starter with 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He spurred the incredible fourth-quarter comeback against Tennessee and tossed four touchdowns in the upset win over then-No. 3 Ole Miss.
The 6-2, 200-pound gunslinger touted the SEC’s highest completion percentage (65.8) and became the first Florida quarterback since Tim Tebow in 2009 to throw for at least 200 yards in three straight games.
But on Oct. 12, Grier was suspended a full calendar year for violating the NCAA’s performance-enhancing drug policy, and Florida’s offense has mostly been stuck in the mud ever since.
Sophomore quarterback Treon Harris piloted the Gators to the SEC Championship Game, but the former Miami Booker T. Washington standout struggled mightily in McElwain’s pro-style system (49 percent completion percentage with 7 TDs and 5 INTs).
The Gators were blown out in their final two games against Florida State and Alabama, scoring just a single touchdown.
Initially, Florida hoped Grier would be eligible to return at the start of next season, but in late November he lost his appeal to have his 12-month suspension reduced.
Now, Grier faces a murky future. He could immediately transfer to a junior college school and play right away, but should he go to another Division 1 program, Grier must sit out the full 2016 season and the first six games of 2017. Regardless of whatever initial decision Grier makes, the NCAA’s six-game suspension is waiting for him if he ever plays D-1 football again.
Grier is the sixth Florida quarterback to leave the program in the last three years, joining Max Staver, Jacoby Brissett, Skyler Mornhinweg, Tyler Murphy and Jeff Driskel.
With Grier no longer in the fold, Florida will have just three scholarship quarterbacks in the spring, including two true freshmen (Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask).
The coaching staff is also quite high on walk-on quarterback Luke Del Rio, son of Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio.
Del Rio, who initially signed with Alabama out of high school and has a close connection with UF offensive coordinator Doug Nussemier, earned rave reviews this summer but had to sit out the 2015 season after transferring from Oregon State.