MORGANTOWN, W.V. (AP) – Maybe Will Grier can do at West Virginia what Baker Mayfield did with Oklahoma before going to the NFL.
If the senior quarterback can mimic the spectacular season had by Mayfield, the Mountaineers would have a couple of significant firsts. They have never won a Big 12 Conference title or had a Heisman Trophy winner.
Oklahoma won its third Big 12 title in a row, and 11th overall, on the way to the College Football Playoff with the Heisman-winning quarterback who was the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft.
While the Sooners are the preseason favorite again, there are also high expectations for Grier, the preseason Big 12 offensive player of the year who threw 34 touchdowns and 3,490 yards in his injury-shortened WVU debut. The Mountaineers even launched a Grier7Heisman.com website during the summer. The Big 12 has never had back-to-back Heisman winners.
“I would never approve a campaign unless I felt like a player could handle it,” coach Dana Holgorsen said. “He’s ready for this. He’s prepared himself his whole life for this. … I’ve got no worries about him not understanding expectations and how to deal with expectations.”
The Mountaineers, who are 27-27 in conference games since joining the Big 12 seven years ago, were picked second in the preseason media poll, ahead of TCU, Texas and Oklahoma State.
“We’re focused on winning games and being the best we can be, and I think Dana understands and trusts that I know that,” said Grier, the former Florida quarterback who broke the middle finger on his throwing hand when diving for the end zone in the 11th game last season. “What I’m focused on is not the expectations, but the preparation.”
West Virginia also returns receiver David Sills, a former quarterback who had 60 catches for 980 yards and a nation-best 18 TDs last season.
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