MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — With Will Grier eligible to play in the opener against Virginia Tech and Jake Spavital at the helm of the offense, the West Virginia University football team could explode for a high-scoring and exciting season.
Entering the 2017 season, the highly touted redshirt junior has high expectations placed upon him.
During his redshirt freshman campaign at Florida, Grier started five of his six games, where he completed 106 of 161 passes for 1,204 yards and 10 touchdowns. In those six games, he only threw three interceptions. Against Tennessee, the 6-foot-2, 204-pound quarterback threw for a season-high 283 yards on 23 of 42 passing.
Coming out of high school, Grier was named the Parade National Player of the Year, Maxwell Player of the Year and Tom Lemming Offensive Player of the Year. He was also named Mr. Football USA as the nation’s top high school player, as selected by a five-member panel of StudentSports.com football experts. In 2014, Grier’s stellar high school play earned him a selection to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
With the Mountaineers’ talented quarterback uniting with Spavital, Grier is poised for success. In the spring game, he completed 12 of 18 passes for 202 yards and seemed to be adapting well.
Combined with a powerful corps of running backs and wide receivers, Grier could really light up the scoreboard this fall.
However, the depth behind Grier is a little shaky. Chris Chugunov served as the backup to Skyler Howard last season and is expected to do so for Grier.
The redshirt sophomore appeared in three games last season where he completed 2 of 5 passes for 15 yards with a long of 11 yards. During that time, he threw one pick.
As a freshman, the 6-foot-1, 203-pound redshirt but prior to that he had a successful high school career. In four years, Chugunov had 6,308 passing yards, 47 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
Five times in his high school career, the Skillman, NJ native threw for 300 or more yards.
But Chugunov has yet to find that success at WVU. During this year’s spring game, he completed 10-of-22 passes for 98 yards with no touchdowns.
With the loss of Cody Saunders, the Mountaineers are limited at the quarterback position outside of Grier and Chugunov.
Next in line is David Isreal, a JUCO transfer from Butler (Kan.) Community College. He is a dual-threat quarterback with an exceptionally strong arm and is extremely athletic.
The 6-foot-3, 175-pound sophomore was forced into the starter role with Butler last season. He threw for 1,841 yards and 13 touchdowns. However, Isreal was sacked 10 times and threw 12 picks. Coming out of high school, the Blythewood, SC native was lightly recruited.
While redshirting the newcomer seems like the best option, Isreal may see the field sooner rather than later.
After Saunders’ career-ending injury, WVU needed another quarterback and is giving preferred walk-on Jack Bueltel a shot.
Bueltel is a 6-foot, 176-pound quarterback out of Barron Collier High in Naples, Fla. He was a three-year starter at the 6A level.
One plus about Bueltel is his toughness. During a high school game in his senior season, he played through a collapsed lung.
Despite being injured, Bueltel threw for more than 100 yards.
In three years for the Cougars, Bueltel threw for 2,465 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also rushed for 648 yards and 13 touchdowns. As a junior, Bueltel passed for 1,259 yards and nine touchdowns.
Jack Allison transferred to WVU from Miami earlier this summer, but the redshirt freshman won’t make an immediate impact because he has to sit out a year due to NCAA regulations. However, he will have three years of eligibility remaining.
Allison was a four-star prospect. During his senior year of high school, he threw for over 1,400 yards and had 11 touchdown passes, completing 62.1 percent of his passes. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound quarterback threw just five interceptions during his final year of high school.
Allison was rated as the eighth-best quarterback in the country and 19th–best overall prospect in the state of Florida in 247Sports’ Composite Rankings and was an Under Armour All-American in 2016.
While Allison won’t see the field next season, he could be an asset in the near future.
(Feature Photo Credit: Dale Sparks/ All-Pro Photography, WVU)