Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

West Virginia quarterback Will Grier (7) threw 34 touchdowns this season, 18 of them to Biletnikoff finalist David Sills. Their return in 2018 could forge the Big 12’s top offense.



MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — When Will Grier was popped for taking a banned over-the-counter substance in 2015, Florida owned a 6-0 record and a top-10 ranking.

When Grier lunged toward a pylon last month and came up with his middle finger gruesomely fractured, West Virginia was still in the mix for the Big 12 title.

Those disappointments factored heavily into the quarterback revealing Thursday that he isn’t done with college football. He put off the NFL draft in order to return in 2018.

“He very much wants to win a championship,” said Will’s father, Chad Grier. “He loves WVU, loves his coaches and loves his teammates.”

Speaking of teammates, Grier’s decision figures to cement the return of breakout receiver David Sills. With eight returning starters projected on offense, and transfers T.J. Simmons and Jovani Haskins on the cusp of stepping in, the Mountaineers could feature the conference’s most dynamic attack next season.

With Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph wrapping up their careers, Grier figures to be the Big 12’s top returning playmaker next season. Sports Illustrated and ESPN, in full hype-warp after Mayfield barely had time to pose with his Heisman, each tabbed Grier among the frontrunners for the 2018 trophy.

A source told MetroNews that Grier’s NFL draft evaluation revealed a second- to third-round grade, but the fear was that he could even fall into the fourth round. That wasn’t enough reassurance for Grier, not when a productive senior season could do what it did for Mayfield and Rudolph.

To calculate the difference in dollars, consider that the No. 32 pick at the end of the 2017 first round, Ryan Ramczyk, signed for $8.9 million over four years. Quarterback Davis Webb, taken No. 82 overall in the bottom half of the third round, signed for $3.7 million.

That’s a massive difference in money. Almost as massive as the increased buzz around West Virginia’s 2018 hopes now that Grier has re-committed to them.

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