On a day Florida got bad news on the future of its quarterback position when Jacob Eason decided to stick with his commitment to Georgia, first-year coach Jim McElwain said Will Grier would return to team activities on January 5. The quarterback is currently taking finals at Florida.
Grier has missed the last seven games after the NCAA suspended him for a calendar year after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. The suspension was announced on October 12, two days after Grier helped the Gators to a 21-3 win at Missouri.
“It’s tough on everybody,” McElwain said. “The poor guy, walking on campus ain’t easy. I just feel sick about it. It’s not easy, and yet when you learn things when they don’t go well, they really make you stronger.
“Look, you can sit and cry over it or you can move forward and make the best of it. That’s one thing I think he’s doing.”
Grier will not be allowed to return until the seventh game of the 2016 season, coming on October 15 against Missouri. He will not go through bowl practices with the team and hasn’t practiced since the suspension was announced. McElwain said he wouldn’t be allowed to travel to Orlando with Florida to the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, so they’ll continue to hold him out from practicing.
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“He'll join us back up January 5,” McElwain said. “I think that's the first day we're going, so he'll be ready to roll."
Grier completed 65.8 percent (106-161) of his passes this season in six games, throwing for 1,204 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. He also gained 179 yards on the ground with two rushing touchdowns. When Grier was suspended, Treon Harris was forced into the starting role. Harris completed 51.9 percent (111-214) of his passes for 1,530 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions. The offense took large steps back with Grier on the sideline.
Heading into the spring, the Gators are expected to have both Grier and Harris at quarterback. Transfer Luke Del Rio will also be eligible for the 2016 season and will practice during the spring.
They’ll also add two early enrollees at quarterback -- four-star Feleipe Franks and two-star Kyle Trask. Franks ranks as the No. 86 overall player and No. 5 quarterback in the 2016 class.