Florida announced Monday that redshirt freshman quarterback Will Grier will be suspended for the rest of the season.
The suspension is for a violation of NCAA rules regarding performance-enhancing drugs. The NCAA rule states that an athlete loses one full year of eligibility, which means Grier could miss the first half of the 2016 season, too. Grier was listed at 6 feet 2 and 177 pounds as a high school senior in the Charlotte suburbs; the school said he reported at 6-2 and 183 pounds in January 2014 and now is 6-2 and 203.
“I took an over-the-counter supplement that had something in it; I did not check with the medical staff before taking,” an emotional Grier said at a news conference Monday; the news conference is a weekly event, but this week’s was moved back a few hours.
“I really hope people can learn from this, learn from my mistake,” he said.
Coach Jim McElwain said at the news conference that Florida will appeal the suspension. He said he learned about Grier’s positive test Sunday, a day after the Gators beat Missouri 21-3 on the road. School officials said no games are in jeopardy of being forfeited; Grier technically did not become ineligible until the positive test was confirmed from a second sample. Under the NCAA’s drug-testing procedure, when a first sample results in a positive test, a second sample then is tested to verify the results.
Florida (6-0), which has been one of the nation’s biggest surprises, plays at LSU (5-0) this Saturday in a battle of top-10 teams.
“For this football team, it means next guy up,” McElwain said.
Sophomore Treon Harris, who started six games last season and the opener this season, becomes Florida’s starter going forward. Florida is 5-2 with Harris as the starter.
Harris saw a bit of action in special sets against Missouri this past Saturday, running the ball on his two plays.
Florida’s backup becomes senior Josh Grady, a graduate transfer from Vanderbilt. Grady was a high school quarterback who eventually moved to wide receiver at Vandy. He and Harris now are the only two quarterbacks on scholarship who are available to play.
Florida is the only unbeaten team in the SEC East and basically owns a two-game advantage over every other division team. Kentucky is the only other division team with fewer than two league losses, but the Gators already have beaten the Wildcats and thus own the tiebreaker.
LSU looks to be the toughest remaining game on the schedule, though there also are games with Georgia in Jacksonville and Florida State in Gainesville.
One positive for Florida is that Harris has a lot of experience. While not as polished a passer as Grier, he does offer more in the running game and he does have a strong arm. At the same time, using Harris in the run game perhaps creates unnecessary risks, considering the backup situation. Florida also has a strong defense it can lean on.
(Follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin)
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