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Quarterback Will Grier to transfer out of Florida

Florida's already shaky quarterback situation got even shakier Saturday with the expected transfer of redshirt freshman Will Grier.

Grier has served half of a yearlong NCAA suspension over a failed drug test but was expected to try to regain the starting job midway through the 2016 season. UF coach Jim McElwain even told reporters Monday that he expected Grier to "jump in and be ready to roll" when he resumed team workouts after the Jan. 1 Citrus Bowl.

But something changed not long after that. Grier, 20, told the coaching staff late last week that he intended to transfer, a move the school confirmed Saturday afternoon.

"We will support him and help him in any way we can," McElwain said in a statement. "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."

Three months ago, Grier looked like the long-term solution to quarterback problems that have plagued Florida since Tim Tebow left six years ago.

Grier — Parade magazine's national player of the year in high school — earned the starting job after a months-long battle with sophomore Treon Harris. Grier, who started five of his six games, completed 65.8 percent with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. He helped the Gators to a 6-0 start and a top-10 ranking with a comeback win over Tennessee and a 28-point rout of then-No. 3 Ole Miss.

But his season ended in mid October after he tested positive for an unnamed performance-enhancing drug. Grier apologized and appealed, but the NCAA upheld its automatic yearlong suspension. Harris, who has completed 51.9 percent with nine touchdowns and five interceptions, regained the starting job.

With Grier sidelined, UF's offense sputtered. It averaged 385 yards and 32 points before his suspension; after, those numbers fell to 299 yards and 18 points while No. 19 UF lost three of its last seven games.

It's unclear where Grier intends to transfer, but he will have to sit out six more games if he lands at another NCAA school.

UF, meanwhile, will continue searching for a long-term fix at the game's most important position after facing No. 17 Michigan in the Citrus Bowl on New Year's Day.

Harris likely will compete with Oregon State transfer Luke Del Rio and four-star true freshman Feleipe Franks for next season's starting job.

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

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