Even before he had even played a single game at cornerback,
was making headlines.
As an eighth-grader, the Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.)
football player received a scholarship offer from Virginia Tech.
"They (saw) it before it happened," Grimes said.
What in particular did the Hokies and coach Justin Fuente see to make them extend an offer to a middle schooler?
"They see I'm big, physical and very athletic," Grimes said. "I'm fast and I can play both sides of the ball and I'm very smart."
When Virginia Tech came calling, Grimes admits it was a "wow" moment. He knew he had made it.
Grimes, now a sophomore, has showed in his first two seasons as a starting cornerback at Princess Anne that Virginia Tech didn't make a mistake. Grimes has tallied six interceptions in his young career. All those came his freshman year as teams shied away from him as a sophomore — he only surrendered three receptions in his second year. Because of his impressive play, Grimes is ranked as the third best cornerback and No. 27 overall prospect in the Class of 2021 by 247Sports.com.
"I'm trying to go to college and be special," Grimes said.
Virginia Tech might have been the first college to offer Grimes a scholarship but it certainly wasn't the last. He has about 30 offers from nearly every top Division I program in the country.
On the list are the likes of Clemson, Alabama, LSU, Michigan, Texas A&M and Tennessee. It's a Who's Who of big-name programs. About two weeks ago, Texas made its way to Virginia Beach to meet with Grimes.
"They don't come to the 757 ever that I've heard of," Princess Anne football coach James Yeager said. "That's huge for teams to be flying out that far. Notre Dame was just out yesterday and Ohio State (is) checking him out."
When household name coaches such as Alabama's Nick Saban and Michigan's Jim Harbaugh are knocking at a player's door, he must be doing something right.
"It pushes me even harder but staying humble," Grimes said. "When I get to college I've got to remain, oh yeah, he's going to be that guy. I don't want to go to college and then you never hear my name again or end up in the transfer portal. I want to go to college and be like, yeah, I remember him from high school. He was doing this and now he's going to the pros."
At 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, Grimes has ideal size and has become extremely good as a press cornerback. The 17-year-old isn't afraid to be physical at the line of scrimmage and make a wide receiver beat him. One of his best traits, in his own humble opinion, as a cornerback is his technique.
"Be patient at the line, too," Grimes said. "He has to go around you. No receiver's running through me, especially how strong I am. No receiver's going through me, so he has to go around. Once he goes around, I'm tracking the hip, going with him. The ball's thrown in the air and it's mine.
"The ball's the money. That's how I make my money."
Yeager raves about Grimes' strength.
"He's super lean," Grimes said. "His body (fat) percentage is probably 5 percent or less. He squats 300 to almost 400 pounds. Benches close to 300 pounds. He trains a lot. He trains hard, he's fast."
Yeager took over as Princess Anne head football coach in January, so he hasn't been able to work with Grimes too long. But he's been impressed with his work ethic and what he has watched on film.
"He has length: long arms, long limbs," Yeager said. "You just look at him and he covers a lot of distance pretty quickly and he's smooth when he does it. He's not afraid to come up and tackle. He can run, man. He can run zone."
Grimes patterns his game after another lockdown cornerback, Jacksonville Jaguars' Jalen Ramsey. Grimes has been watching Ramsey — who is just seven years older than his admirer — for a number of years. He'll check out his highlights and study his moves.
The biggest thing Grimes takes away from Ramsey's game is how effectively he uses his hands.
"He's violent at the line," Grimes said. "He's not going to let you get a free release. If you pass, he's going to touch you."
Yeager compares Grimes to another NFL corner, Arizona Cardinals' Patrick Peterson. Grimes loves Peterson's playing style as well.
"He uses his hands but he doesn't use his hands as much as Jalen Ramsey," Grimes said. "He's more patient and he's very smart. He's to the point where he really don't have to press; he already knows the route they're going to do."
Grimes has an extremely busy summer ahead of him with prestigious camp invites. In mid-April, Grimes competed in the Rivals Camp Series in Washington, D.C., and dazzled the coaches. He was named the defensive back MVP and invited to the prestigious Under Armour Future 50.
The future is bright for Grimes, who has already been chosen for the Under Armour All-American Game in 2021.
This summer, Grimes is planning on showing college coaches the full arsenal of his skills on the field.
"I want to show them that I can come up and hit more, that I can come up and smack the running backs," said Grimes, who is also an accomplished offensive player, running for 248 yards and four touchdowns and having 96 receiving yards and one score this past season. "Yeah, I'm a good tackler but I need to put like some oohs and ahhs on a highlight tape, like big hits."
When he isn't concentrating on football, Grimes is worrying about his education. He has a 3.6 grade point average and knows how important it is to do well in the classroom. Even if Grimes is one of the very few who make the NFL, he wants to already own his own business once he leaves college.
The kid has big dreams on and off the field.
"Yeah, I hear a lot that football doesn't last forever and it doesn't, so I want to get my degree," Grimes said. "After football I want to do something. I want to still keep making money."
Grimes, who also runs the 100- and 200-yard dash on the Princess Anne track and field team, is dedicated to his community. Along with his family, Grimes co-founded the organization Provisions of the Season. About 10 times per year, he gets out onto the streets of Virginia Beach and provides the homeless with blankets and food. Grimes has become quite a humanitarian.
"It means I have a good heart, which I do," Grimes said. "For me, I hate to see people struggle. I'm always helping. I'm always giving when I can."
Recently, Grimes took time out of his busy schedule to head over to the elementary school where Yeager works and read books to kids for two hours after school. Yeager knows he's working with a special student-athlete.
"That stuff where a lot of these kids nowadays would rather go home and sit on the social media or video games," Yeager said. "But Tony and three or four other boys on the team were like, no, let's go give back to the community. That's pretty exceptional.
"He's not just going to be a good football player. He's going to be a great man."
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