As Gators counted down the days until Will Grier would return to the field this October a collective gasp could be heard when news broke that the suspended redshirt freshman had decided to transfer. Fans weren’t the only ones caught off guard; Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain was surprised as well.
“We anticipated him being here,” McElwain said on Monday. “Obviously the choice was made to go somewhere else.”
“We obviously thought he was coming back, that’s what we had a couple weeks ago. But in this case, that’s a choice. The one thing I’ll never do is make someone do something they don’t want to do.”
Grier, who hasn’t practiced with the team since his suspension in October, met with offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier two weeks ago before meeting with McElwain later the same week. The meeting went well enough for McElwain to state that Grier would rejoin team activities following the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. That changed when Grier came to McElwain’s office to tell his now former head coach of his intentions to transfer.
Something in the Grier camp changed during the following week and, while McElwain was caught off guard, he did say he would support Grier as he looked to find a new school.
“In life, sometimes change of scenery is good,” said McElwain. “In this case, he’s going to go have a successful career and go on to play in the NFL. We’ll help him and support him in every way we can.”
That support does come with a caveat, according to Mark Long of the Associated Press. Long tweeted on Monday that Grier won’t be able to transfer to a school in the SEC and “possibly more.”
“I’m not real fired up about seeing him in the SEC, but we signed a bunch of, every school that he brought up,” McElwain said of signing off on teams that Grier could contact. “We’re here to support him.”
Grier had become a favorite in the locker room and sophomore David Sharpe called losing his former starting quarterback “very sad.”
“That was one of my close friends,” he said. “Yeah, it surprised me.”