MORGANTOWN, W.Va — West Virginia quarterback Will Grier will walk out of the weight room and onto Mountaineer Field on Friday to a standing ovation from Mountaineers fans. That’s not the Senior Night he envisioned Three years ago.
Florida celebrated its senior day last week prior to its game against Idaho. That was supposed to be Grier’s final adieu to the home crowd, but a PED suspension as a redshirt freshman in 2015 uprooted Grier and his family from the Gators program.
After helping Florida reach a 6-0 mark and appearing to fix dubious issues the Gators had since Tim Tebow, Grier’s suspension forced him to transfer and start anew somewhere else.
That somewhere else was West Virginia.
“This place is home, and I’ve given my life to this place and tried to represent the state and the program as best I can,” Grier said. “I’m happy they gave me an opportunity. When I say ‘they,’ I mean the state, the school. I graduated from here, my daughter was born here. There are a lot of things that mean a lot to me about this place. I wish it wasn’t my last one, but it is, and you have to move on.”
It’s worked out for not only Grier but the program, as well. He’s been one of the top quarterbacks in the country during his two years as the starter for the Mountaineers, throwing 667 touchdowns during that stretch.
Of those 67, 31 have gone to another senior, wide receiver David Sills.
Back in 2015 as a freshman, Sills likely thought this would be his senior night. It’s the path he took in between that makes his West Virginia career unique.
Coming in as a highly-touted quarterback, Sills was moved to receiver during his true freshman year and as we’ve all see now, coach Dana Holgorsen knew the potential he had there. But Sills still had the itch to play QB in college so he transferred to El Camino College in California.
He played well, but once he realized the opportunity may be lost to play major college football as a quarterback, he gave his old head coach a call and returned to West Virginia to play receiver full-time.
Like Grier, it’s worked out pretty well for Sills.
“Going to a junior college and coming back and being welcomed with open arms is something I’ll never forget,” Sills said. “There’s really no other way I’d rather have a senior night than playing against Oklahoma on Friday night the day after Thanksgiving with Big 12 championship implications on the line.”
Even safety Dravon Askew-Henry sat down and thought about the opportunity this senior class has to make history tonight against the Sooners.
“Man, we’ve got it right in front of us,” he said. “This is what we’ve been playing for for a long time.”
But this wasn’t supposed to be Askew-Henry’s final game at Milan Puskar Stadium. It wasn’t even supposed to be his final season at West Virginia. After starting as a true freshman and sophomore in 2014 and ’15, Askew-Henry tore his ACL in camp prior to his junior season, forcing him to take his redshirt.
That pushed the entire process back a season — instead of last year against Texas being his senior day and ending his career in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, Askew-Henry will run out onto the field for what is arguably the biggest game in Morgantown in over a decade with a shot at a Big 12 championship berth.
But he gained more than just what’s on the football field, all in part from an injury that, at the time, was devastating for Askew-Henry.
“At thought about that all the time, especially when I was hurt,” he said. “Now that I look back on it, I’m glad that everything played out how it did because now I’ve graduated, I know what I can do in life after football. I’ve also just matured and that’s something I needed to do before leaving here.”
Askew-Henry is one of just four remaining from the 2014 recruiting class, the others being offensive lineman Yodny Cajuste, receiver William Crest and punter Billy Kinney.
Askew-Henry isn’t sure if he’ll cry during, though he’s almost positive his mother, Shanell, almost certainly will.
“I’m just going to miss everything — the fans, the field, coach Mike (Joseph) — I’m going to miss everything.”