Maturity can be defined as “the state of being mature,” synonymous with adulthood or manhood. For the Mountaineers this football season, maturity may also end up being synonymous with success judging by the commentary and tone of the past few days of fall practice.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen stated that one of the differences in his team this year is the maturity he sees prior to the first snap of the season.
“We’ve got a lot of older, mature players,” Holgorsen said. “Just from an overall maturity point of view, I think this team is light years ahead of many of the teams I’ve had since I’ve been here.”
The concept of maturity is one that is talked about near constantly when speaking about college football. Many forget that the freshman running back you love so much is just an 18 or 19 year old. Remember being that young, your incoming freshman year of college? Now throw all of that into the mix with playing a D-1 sport, there needs to be maturity but sometimes it takes a season or two.
The Mountaineers this year are led by starting quarterback and Heisman-hopeful Will Grier and his partner-in-crime David Sills V. The duo chose to return to Morgantown for another year together in the Old Gold and Blue, leading their teammates with drive, determination and that loved word; maturity.
The tone of maturity and leadership is heard from all sides of the team. When speaking with the media this week, redshirt senior Yodny Cajuste echoed his head coach’s tone and mentality. “We just tried to be leaders and tried to change the culture around here. As seniors, this is our team now. A lot of the seniors just tried to change that culture and make things how we wanted them to be around here. It’s going well so far,” Cajuste said. “We’re just leading by example. I feel like our seniors have all been really good leaders. We all lead by example because we want everyone to work hard by the end of the day. When you have guys who work hard like that, then the young guys look up to that example, and they want to work hard in the future, too.”
Assistant coach and offensive coordinator Jake Spatvial sees the maturity in this team as well. “It’s comforting. The main thing is you have a returning quarterback, and year two is always a more successful year because of the familiarity with each other, the play calls, understanding how we operate at times and not duplicating mistakes that have been previously made,” Spavital. “Having a group coming back like what we have right now, from a maturity standpoint, it’s been great. It’s been awesome for the young kids too to see how these kids work and the preparation they put into it. I always enjoy the years when you have a mature team, but there’s still a lot of work, as a coach, because injuries happen and then you have to get the next man ready.”
A football team is typically deemed to be made of men, playing on the Power Five level separates the men from the boys and this season the Mountaineers are led by a returning senior quarterback whose maturity exceeds the gridiron.
Quarterback Will Grier has been lauded since the start of the 2017 season for his natural born leadership skills. Dating back to his days outside of Charlotte, Grier navigate a long and winding country road from North Carolina, further south, then up to the Old Gold and Blue in Morgantown, showcasing his ability to lead every step of the way. Now, it’s time for Grier’s final lap through college football and the married father and quarterback is looking to lead by example and help his teammates have the same maturity he has shown for years.
Grier’s journey to West Virginia and the poise with which he continues to handle everything in his way, whether hiccups in his journey or balancing married life and life with a young daughter, shows that his maturity is leaps and bounds beyond his age. Grier is a role model off the field as well as on and when you’re surrounded by the maturity he embodies, it is only natural for his teammates to want to emulate that maturity which will only increase this team’s potential.
Returning players, after several years seasoned to the grind of the gridiron, makes the team that much stronger. There is a strength that comes with being able to handle what life throws you, or rather what the opponent throws you. That strength comes from transitioning from a boy playing a pickup game of football, to becoming a man and carrying a team, a school and a state on your shoulders.
This football team has that maturity this season, listen to those on the team and those around them. That special click is there, there’s a cohesiveness needed for success and led by Grier and his fellow seniors, it’s there.
Maturity may be synonymous with manhood, but this fall it will also be synonymous with success for the Mountaineers.