The sophomore at Davidson Day is set to lead the Patriots into the school’s first varsity season on Friday at Harrells Christian, and despite expectations that might seem off the chart, there’s not a hint of anxiety.
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound quarterback says he has never gotten even the slightest bit nervous before a game, and he doesn’t celebrate or stress out over the things he can’t control, like media exposure or statistics — or who the Patriots’ head coach might be.
The fact that the head coach is his father, Chad Grier, might have become a burden at a different time or place, but it’s a non-issue at Davidson Day and for the Griers.
“His talent takes that away,” says Chad Grier, referring to any dissension that might arise from a coach whose star player happens to be his son. “I don’t want to be unfair to him, but whatever is required of players on the team, I want my kid to do more.”
Chad Grier noticed something special about his oldest son at a very early age. When Will was 3, he was regularly swishing shots at a 10-foot basketball goal. There was always a baseball or football in his hand. There was an uncanny focus and an undeniable natural talent that continued to blossom.
“He has some things you just can’t teach,” says Chad Grier.
The intangibles like leadership abilities and a built-in competitive streak might be second nature to Will Grier. Add those traits to the expertise his father established as a star quarterback at Charlotte Latin and then at East Carolina, and its easy to see how the whole package starts forming.
“As much as I try to downplay it, he’s special,” says Chad Grier. “He has all the physical tools, plus he’s a straight-A student with a football IQ that’s off the chart.”
Father and son say their similarities make them a good combo, especially in recent years when both have learned to rein in their emotions. Their passion for the game at times caused friction, but not so much anymore.
Instead of firing barbs back and forth at each other in the heat of the moment, the two spend time looking at game film together, learning nuances of spread formation offenses that they might want to incorporate, and studying tendencies of defenses they will face.
“We both love the game,” says Will. “We both share that passion for football. It’s what drives us.”
Last year, Will registered 28 touchdown passes and two interceptions on the Davidson Day junior varsity team. This season, new challenges await for a Patriots team that will dress just 24 players.
Both coach and star player don’t really see challenges as much as they do opportunities. The chance to take a first-year program and make waves state-wide is both exciting and realistic. Will Grier is surrounded by talented players, players so good that people within the program are already talking about future state titles.
When Chad Grier played high school ball at Charlotte Latin 25 years ago, his coach was Larry McNulty, who’s produced plenty of Division I quarterbacks. In college, Chad played for Kevin Gilbride and for Mark Richt, two men renowned for their offensive ingenuity at the highest levels of competition. All of them say they see a rising star in Will.
As for Chad Grier, he sees a son who has worked hard and is now in position to benefit from his talents and effort.