Virginia Beach (Va.) Princess Anne cornerback Tony Grimes isn’t without his fair share of options from which to choose. Despite still having two full seasons of high school football ahead of him, the highly-coveted 2021 talent is owner to 30 scholarship offers, with invitations stemming from the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M, just to name a few.
However, Grimes’ most recent offer, an invitation to take his talents to Texas, was one that was admittedly shocking to receive.
“When coach [Washington] told my dad I got the offer and my dad told me I got the offer, I was very surprised, very shocked,” Grimes told BON. “I didn’t even know Texas came out to this state.”
To an extent, Grimes’ observation was on point — Texas does come out to Virginia, but seldomly. Throughout the entire Tom Herman era in Austin, Texas has offered only five Virginia natives, and to make matters a bit more special in Grimes’ mind, Longhorns cornerbacks coach Jason Washington caught a plane to the east coast to meet with Grimes’ coaching staff at Princess Anne High School prior to presenting the offer.
“It means a lot. Means so much that he took the time out of his day to fly all the way to Virginia Beach to give me an offer,” Grimes said. “That right there shocked me big time and I really appreciate it.”
Now that Grimes has an offer in hand, the next step is to tour Texas; something he said he’s aiming to possibly do during the third weekend of May. The willingness to make his way halfway across the country shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as Grimes has already taken offseason trips offseason South Carolina, Tennessee, Penn State, Maryland, Alabama, TCU, and Texas A&M.
As far as a Texas trip is concerned, Grimes expressed an eagerness to experience the environment around the Forty Acres and begin establishing a relationship with the coaching staff. Elsewhere, though, Grimes is still fairly unfamiliar with the Texas program — that is, aside from the Longhorns’ longstanding reputation as ‘DBU.’
“Originally, they’re DBU. That’s what I hear all over the town. DBU, DBU. Texas Longhorns, DBU,” Grimes said. “I don’t know a lot about them, that’s why I want to get down there to know more and learn about the campus, get to meet the coaches.”
It’s probably safe to assume that the Texas coaching staff will be just as eager to host the four-star defensive back, and that goes beyond the tremendous talent he brings to the field. Off of it, Grimes describes himself as “very humble, outgoing, and smart,” which is probably most evident with Grimes’ community outreach efforts as part of an organization called Provision for the Season.
“Just to give back,” Grimes said of why he feels compelled to routinely volunteer in his community. “To me, it means a lot because where we’re at, I see a lot of homeless people. So what I do, I have this group called Provision for the Season, and every season, I go out and do something for the homeless; blankets, food, bottled water, and all that good stuff. Every Christmas, me and my family do something big, as well.”
When discussing his volunteer work, Grimes’ voice carried an apparent passion and humility. As the topic switched to what he brings to the table as one of the nation’s premier prospects, regardless of position, his confidence and competitiveness surfaced.
“On the field, I’m savvy, I’m a dog,” Grimes said. “I love press man [coverage] but I can play any scheme you put me in; zone, anything.”
Grimes’ personal praise is evident in his film. The 6’0, 180-pound prospect plays with obvious instincts for the position and the kind of advanced technique that certainly isn’t common for a talent with two years of high school ahead of them.
Such is just a small sample of why he’s considered to be the second-best cornerback prospect in his class, per 247Sports, but he isn’t exactly surprised by the praise and ranking he’s received — it’s simply the product of the work he’s put forth.
“I’m blessed to be ranked at what I am now, but it’s not surprising to me because I put in the hard work on and off the field,” Grimes said. “To me, I think I’m the best corner in the nation, honestly.”
There’s a case to be made that Texas sees Grimes in that same light.
Beyond the Longhorns looking to Virginia for just the fifth time since the 2018 class, and beyond Washington flying all the way to Virginia Beach to pursue the top-ranked talent in Virginia, Grimes became the first — and still only — 2021 cornerback prospect to pick up a Texas offer.
“It means a lot,” Grimes said of becoming the first player at his position to earn a Texas offer. “Honestly, it means a lot because it means they really want me and they put me really high on their recruiting board to come get me.”
Grimes is quite clearly atop Texas’ big board at the cornerback position, and the interest between the two sides is certainly mutual. But as evident by his offer list, Grimes will be able to pick and choose from some of the nation’s most prominent programs. To help him evaluate his abundance of options, Grimes said factors he’ll evaluate include comfort with the coaching staff and the college as a whole, how well the players are developed, how the team interacts together, and, of course, whether or not he’ll be suiting up for a defensive backs coach with a track record of sending talent to the NFL.
While Grimes has every intention of doing his due diligence throughout the recruiting process, he’s in no rush to evaluate those options, and for good reason.
“This only happens once in a lifetime and you only go to one college, so it’s good to get out and go experience what you’ve got a feel for because you don’t want to end up in the transfer portal.”