High school football

Recruiters flock to Davidson Day QB Grier

lwertz@charlotteobserver.comJuly 30, 2012 

DAVIDSON_DAY_QB

Davidson Day quarterback Will Grier at Davidson Day School Thursday, July 26, 2012. Todd Sumlin - tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com

TODD SUMLIN — THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER

— Last year, Davidson Day quarterback Will Grier threw for 3,785 yards and 49 touchdowns.

Last January, MaxPreps, a national high school recruiting website, named him to its sophomore All-America team, giving Grier the distinction of being one of the nation’s best players in his class.

Since then, it’s all been kind of crazy.

Grier, 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, has had private workouts at Florida and Tennessee – each resulting in a scholarship offer before he left campus – and more than 40 college coaches found Davidson Day on the GPS to get a look at him up close.

“It shows all the hard work I put in the last couple of years is paying off,” said Grier, who carries a 3.85 GPA. “It’s been a team effort. All the guys I practice with and work with in practice with push me a lot as well.”

Grier has offers from the Gators and Volunteers as well as North Carolina, Wake Forest and East Carolina, where his father and high school coach, Chad Grier, once played quarterback. And there’s serious interest, father and son say, from Nebraska, Texas, UCLA, Alabama and Louisiana State.

On Monday, high school football practice officially kicked off, and Grier officially began his junior season as one of the most sought-after recruits, in any class, in the Carolinas.

“He’s not caught up in it at all,” Chad Grier said. “He never talks about it. He’s sat in (college) QB meetings and it’s been a good experience, but it’s been crazy.

“One day, we were talking with a coach from Virginia and I knew we had Maryland coming in. So we get done wth Virginia and are talking with Maryland and (the school secretary calls) and says ‘A coach from Oregon just flew in to see you. He’s here in the office.’ After that, I told Will, ‘Buddy, we’ve got to have a different plan.’ ”

The Griers tightened up the interview schedule and decided to not take visits to any out-of-state schools’ camps to better use the time to work on Will’s craft. They think it’s paid off.

Grier is stronger than he was a year ago and looks thicker, thanks to a five-day-a-week weight-training and conditioning program. He had a 9-foot, 8-inch broad jump at Florida in June. Last week, he had a 10-1 at Tennessee. He ran a laser-timed 4.7-second 40-yard dash and threw a ball nearly 70 yards at Tennessee, too.

“We felt (Will) couldn’t get better, and the team can’t get better if he’s out camping every week,” Chad Grier said. “We tried to go places where several of our kids could go. Florida and Tenneessee weren’t camps and were on the only days he could work out without missing team stuff. Both schools set up tours and meetings and in both cases, they offered as soon as he got done working out.”

Chad Grier said the SEC schools had the same reaction after working out his son, who rushed for 925 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.

“They all act so surprised,” Chad Grier said. “They say ‘We didn’t know how athletic you were.’ ”

Shooting star at QB

Will Grier turned 17 in April. He’s grown up around sports. His father played quarterback at Charlotte Latin. He’s a three-sport athlete who can dunk a basketball with ease and with multiple degrees of difficulty. He made a Charlotte Observer all-area baseball team last spring after hitting .516 with seven home runs.

He’s quickly become a star at Davidson Day, which played its first year of varsity football in 2011. The team finished 11-1, losing only to private school power Charlotte Latin. The 11 wins included two against 3A public schools, two against private military power programs and one in the N.C. Independent Schools’ Division III championship game.

This summer, Davidson Day beat nationally ranked public school power Mallard Creek in the championship game of a 7-on-7 scrimmage at Bank of America Stadium. On the final play of the scrimmage, Grier hit Mike Stevens with a 19-yard, game-winning touchdown pass. The victory sent Davidson Day to the NFL’s national finals in Indianapolis, where Davidson Day finished in the top eight.

“He’s got a great arm,” Mallard Creek coach Mike Palmieri said of Grier. “He can make all the throws. He looked really impressive and he can really throw it around, man. He has one of the best arms in the state.”

Tougher schedule awaits

Grier said he’s expecting teams to key on him and try to confuse him with new coverages when regular-season play begins in a few weeks. The Patriots’ schedule will also be tougher, with games against private school powers Charlotte Latin, Country Day and N.C. Independent Schools’ Division I state champion Providence Day.

He thinks he’s ready to deal with it.

“I think I’m more poised and more in control of the game now,” he said. “I really have a feel for not throwing it deep into windows. That’s where I’ve grown the most. Last year, I was just trying to force the ball into small windows. Sometimes it works and sometimes you get a ball tipped and picked off.”

Davidson Day returns nine starters on offense and defense. Among those are four receivers with Division I offers – Evan Gates, Aaron Seward, Mike Stevens and Jordan Young. Senior Schuyler Coleman, a 6-6, 350-pounder, transferred from Concord’s First Assembly School to help keep Grier standing up.

Davidson Day is also moving up from Division III to Division II for the playoffs, so repeating will be tougher, but the Patriots, who averaged 43 points last season, are only thinking about one thing, Grier said: Another title.

“I’m focused on leading our team this fall,” he said. “I don’t care about stats. I’m really just trying to push myself to get better and better and be the best I can be with the gifts I’ve been blessed with. I won’t take anything for granted.”

Wertz: 704-612-9716

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