Will Grier became the latest college football player to declare his choice to focus on his future, and the upcoming NFL draft, over participating in a meaningless exhibition game. West Virginia football’s Twitter account released Grier’s statement on Saturday that announced he would be missing the Mountaineers’ match up against Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl.
Grier spent most of this season in the conversation among Heisman Trophy-favorites while throwing for 3,864 passing yards and 37 touchdowns. He was a finalist for the Manning Award, the Maxwell Award, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, the Walter Camp Football Foundation Player of the Year Award and the Senior CLASS Award. In his two years at West Virginia, he finished with 7,354 yards, 71 touchdowns and the NCAA record for career passing yards per game with 305.6. Some mock drafts have the quarterback going as high as No. 6-overall.
Grier won’t be the only Mountaineer to skip the team’s final game. All-Big 12 tackle Yodny Cajuste also announced he’d be sitting out of the Camping World Bowl to focus on the draft. Other notable absent prospects include Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, and Iowa tight end Noah Fant.
For most players, the logic behind skipping an otherwise meaningless bowl game is pretty simple: the money made from being selected early in the NFL draft outweighs any glory one could possibly receive in a bowl game, where a player risks hurting himself, and his potential position in the draft (see: Jaylon Smith and Jake Butt). What makes Grier’s decision even more justified is that he has a wife and child to take care of, so the financial incentives of maintaining a high draft stock are even more enticing. After two years of dazzling plays and highlights for his program, focusing on getting a job is the smartest thing Grier could possibly do.