Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

UF quarterback Will Grier suspended for season, will appeal

GAINESVILLE — The last time University of Florida quarterback Will Grier stood at a podium at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, he was the Gators' hero.

Grier, 20, overcame the flu to key UF's 38-10 blowout win over then-No. 3 Ole Miss, returning the Gators to national prominence in a year of mediocre expectations.

Nine days later and three floors up, he clutched a lectern and bit his lip as he tried to explain how he landed a mandatory, yearlong suspension for failing an NCAA drug test — and how he potentially dashed his undefeated team's chances of competing for the Southeastern Conference championship.

"I'm really, really sorry to everyone," Grier said. "Just really sorry."

Grier's 47-word apology came after UF announced his positive test for performance-enhancing drugs. Grier said he didn't check with team officials before taking an unspecified over-the-counter supplement, which contained a banned substance.

"You have to know what you're putting in your body," first-year coach Jim McElwain said. "That's an important thing here, obviously, we didn't do. Will admitted he didn't do it. I think that speaks for him. He's not putting it on anybody else."

But Grier and his No. 8 Gators will have to deal with the consequences, starting Saturday in a prime-time game at unbeaten, sixth-ranked LSU.

For failing the NCAA's random drug test, Grier will miss the rest of this season and the first six games of next season, pending the result of UF's appeal. The Gators do not expect to forfeit any games as a result of the ruling.

McElwain said he found out about the failed test Sunday from the school's athletic director and compliance staff. He and Grier told the team about the suspension Monday afternoon.

"When you have an opportunity to sit down and visit with him and see the remorse and the sorrow, that's hard," McElwain said. "That's really hard."

Especially considering what transpired in the previous months.

After sitting out last year during his redshirt season, Grier battled sophomore Treon Harris for the starting job throughout the spring and summer and into fall. Eventually, Grier emerged as the starter and was one of the biggest reasons why a team that finished 7-5 last year has won its first six games and jumped into the national top 10.

Grier, a North Carolina native, earned his first career start in last month's 31-24 win over his father's alma mater, East Carolina. Two weeks later, he capped off a 13-point comeback over rival Tennessee by throwing the game-winning, 63-yard touchdown pass with 1:26 left.

No Gator freshman has ever completed more passes (106) or had a better completion percentage (65.8) through his first six appearances than Grier. His 10 touchdown passes are tied for fourth in the SEC and are one reason why a team picked to finish fifth in the SEC East turned into favorites to advance to the conference championship game in December.

But reaching that goal became a lot harder Monday.

The Gators will now turn to Harris, a Miami native who is 5-2 in his career as a starter but has thrown for only 1,288 yards in 13 games. UF suspended Harris for the Tennessee game for what ESPN said was a drug-related issue.

Former Armwood High standout and converted receiver Josh Grady becomes the team's backup.

"It's a loss," McElwain said. "But we also have other guys, and we've got to move forward. Hopefully guys will learn from this and see, as he said, it's an opportunity through his choices, hopefully some guys will learn from it."

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

About the NCAA's drug tests

Players are selected randomly and provide "A" and "B" urine samples. Schools are notified of a positive "A" test about 10-15 days afterward. The "B" sample is then tested, and those rulings are final.

A player's first positive test results in a mandatory one-year suspension and the loss of 25 percent of his/her eligibility. An athlete is permanently ineligible after a second positive test for performance-enhancing drugs.

Sports that tend to yield more positive results, like football, are randomly tested more often than others.

UF quarterback Will Grier suspended for season, will appeal 10/12/15 [Last modified: Monday, October 12, 2015 10:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs' Demar Dotson should be back from injury next week

    Bucs

    The Bucs got good news on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI showed only a mild right groin sprain and should be back at practice next week.

    Bucs tackle Demar Dotson, shown last year when he signed a three-year contract extension, should only miss a week of practice with his groin injury and can return healthy for the Bucs' season opener at Miami in three weeks. [Octavio Jones | Times]
  2. Rowdies settle for draw at home

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  3. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  4. Rays journal: Cesar Puello, who has one major-league game, claimed off waivers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Looking to add punch to their right-handed lineup, the Rays claimed OF Cesar Puello off waivers Saturday from the Angels.