Now that he’s able to look back at it while fighting for the starting quarterback job this spring, Grier calls the redshirt a blessing.
The goal was to add weight. He did most of that during the spring and summer of last season. After working with the second team during the spring last season, Grier and Treon Harris went into fall camp battling for the backup job. However, Grier made it clear on Wednesday that him taking a redshirt was the plan all along.
The previous staff told him to remain ready to play, even after Harris officially won the backup job, just in case something happened and Grier needed to be on the field. He went through every walkthrough and sat in on every quarterback meeting, watching intently to see what the older players on the team did and listening closely to quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper.
“Overall, I think it was a blessing,” Will Grier said after Wednesday’s practice. “Just getting a year to work on my body, work on the mental side of the game and still getting to travel and see everything. I think it helped me overall."
Then a back injury crept up. It kept him from traveling to Alabama on September 20 for that game and he missed the next few weeks of practice, limiting him from taking valuable reps. Grier said his back wasn’t 100 percent until he got a few weeks to rest after the Birmingham Bowl. He wasn’t clear on what the injury was, but the only procedure necessary was an epidural he got in the fall.
“It’s just something that kind of happened over time, then it just kind of gives out,” Grier said. “Overuse. Not taking care of it. I think I got lazy on form and a lot of different things and it just went out on me. But I did a lot rehab that I needed to in the fall and I’m good now."
The redshirt also allowed Grier to get used the increased speed of the game. He admitted that it took him a few weeks last spring, but he’s fine with it now.
“I think everybody has to pick it up,” Grier said. “You have to pick it up, or you’re going to get left. I picked it up after a few weeks and then it just became learning the offense. That becomes the hardest part and I think that’s pretty consistent with everybody at this level.”
The back injury also delayed some of his weight gain in the fall, but Grier heads into the spring at 197 pounds. He’s still hoping to gain some more weight before the fall rolls around but the main focus is the new offense.
Grier knew he would have to be more vocal this spring. The coaches have urged the quarterbacks to do that, but he also knew it was necessary from the quarterback position to take charge. Florida coach Jim McElwain complimented both quarterbacks for how they’ve handled that the first week of the spring.
“This team needs leadership. This team needs a voice, needs identity,” Grier said. “At this point, it’s still really early in the spring. We’re still going through a lot of growing pains and working with a lot of guys and working through a lot of different. We have a lot of stuff to work with and I’m excited to get rolling with it."