Chad Grier rarely has time to enjoy a quiet moment these days.
One of his three sons, Nash, is a budding social media sensation who has recently delved into acting in addition to other ventures. Another is Will, the prize of Florida’s 2014 recruiting class whose combination of arm strength and freakish athleticism has had Gainesville buzzing since before he even stepped onto campus.
The hardest question facing the family is which son is sought after most.
“That’s a good question; I’m still trying to get my head around all of that,” Chad Grier said. “I really can’t put into words what is going on with all of this. It’s a little overwhelming to be honest with you.”
It is only set to become more hectic from here.
As Nash continues traveling across the globe in pursuit of the next challenge, Will is settled in Gainesville as one of Florida’s nine early enrollees. Following a disastrous 2013 season in which the Gators finished with a 4-8 record that prompted coach Will Muschamp to declare every position — even quarterback — an open competition heading into spring practice, Grier’s development is one of the hottest topics surrounding the program.
“He’s a kid that can lead Florida back offensively,” recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said. “He’s got all the tools. A real good arm, great legs, and he is smart. Most of all, just tremendous production.”
Lemming was alluding to the record-breaking numbers Grier, who was rated a four-star prospect by Rivals.com, produced while playing for his father at Davidson Day (N.C.). The 6-foot-2, 186-pound quarterback set national marks by throwing for more than 60 touchdowns in a season — once throwing 10 touchdowns during a single game when he was a junior — and compiling yardage totals that would make even the country’s best signal-callers blush.
Grier, who like all incoming UF freshmen is not allowed to speak to the media, threw for 837 yards during his 10-touchdown game, helping his team escape with a 104-80 victory. His success earned him numerous accolades. He was named Mr. Football USA, an award previously won by quarterbacks Matthew Stafford, Vince Young and Peyton Manning, and played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl before arriving at Florida.
“I think he has a great mindset,” said Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, whose up-tempo philosophy should benefit Grier. “I think he has a great quarterback demeanor.”
Grier’s demeanor is what caught Muschamp’s during the recruiting process.
While few quarterbacks possess his raw skills, finding players who combine their talent with the ability to lead teammates through adversity is especially rare. That makes Grier an ideal fit at Florida as the Gators attempt to make a quick turnaround — and decide which quarterback is best suited to help them get there.
“In a perfect world, (Jeff) Driskel gets 100 percent healthy and is able to go and have a great year and Will supports the team and Jeff any way he can,” Chad Grier said. “But if something happens, Will has to be ready.
“Will’s mindset is if the team needs him to be the scout-team quarterback this year, he’ll be the best scout-team quarterback he can possibly be. If they need him to be the starter, then he’ll prepare himself to do the best job he can to help his team win, and anything in between.”
It remains to be seen which end of the spectrum Grier’s role will fall on next season.
Driskel, a red-shirt junior, missed most of last season after suffering a fractured right fibula and has dealt with other injuries during his college career. The job seemingly is his to lose, but Grier could be thrust into action without warning. Florida is thin at the position, with red-shirt sophomore Skyler Mornhinweg the only other quarterback on the roster with game experience.
Grier’s composure throughout his recruitment and now while getting acclimated to his new surroundings and the challenge ahead of him at Florida has helped his father keep calm amid the constant commotion in his life.
“Will has his feet on the ground,” Chad Grier said. “He understands both the situation and the opportunity in front of him at Florida. He has a unique work ethic that I think will transfer into the film room, the weight room and on the field. I don’t have any doubt that he’s going to put the time in to be as effective as he possibly can be.”