Tony Grimes announced his college decision live on several streaming national platforms on Tuesday evening.
“I’ve come a long way and this is what I have been dreaming for,” Grimes said on a live stream with CBS Sports. “I’ve worked hard for this and the time is here. Thank you. I will be taking my talents to the University of North Carolina.”
The nation’s No. 1 CB prospect chose North Carolina from a field of four finalists at a commitment party from Virginia. Those hats on the table did include the University of Georgia.
The Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.) star has been a fixture atop DawgNation’s weekly “top targets” feature for the 2021 class on its “Before the Hedges” program for most of this year.
BREAKING: Tony Grimes, the No. 1 CB in the class of 2021 commits to @TarHeelFootball@CoachMackBrown and the Tar Heels have a top 5 class in 2021@757EliteDB | @247recruiting | @InsideCarolina pic.twitter.com/DHPIT9DSPn
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) June 30, 2020
He made that decision while talking up his aspirations of bringing home a national championship to Chapel Hill.
Grimes called North Carolina’s Mack Brown “an unbelievable head coach” while nothing his track record so far with players that he did not recruit to the program.
“I trust him, my family trusts him and we are going to win the natty,” he said on that live stream with CBS.
He said the decision came to him earlier this month.
“The last three months have been interesting but I found out that I wanted to UNC about three weeks ago,” Grimes also said on a live broadcast announcing his commitment.
The Tar Heels were able to lean on the long-standing and local relationship established by defensive backs coach Dre’ Bly.
Bly was from the same Virginia Beach area as Grimes. He went on to become a two-time All-American at North Carolina and then spent 11 years in the NFL. He told Grimes that he could put the nation’s No. 1 CB prospect and the nation’s No. 7 overall recruit on that same path.
That was the pitch and Grimes felt good about that.
The 6-foot, 180-pound cornerback chose the Tar Heels from a field of finalists which included Georgia, Ohio State and Texas A&M.
Grimes becomes the 17th commitment and the highest-rated pledge for the Tar Heels in 2021. That moves Mack Brown’s program up to the nation’s No. 3 recruiting class for this cycle on the 247Sports Team Composite rankings.
Georgia recruited Grimes very hard here. Even to the point prioritizing him just as much as any target in the 2021 class.
UPDATED: It must be noted that the 5-star CB now plans to take a summer course and graduate early. He plans to be on the North Carolina roster this fall.
Grimes had 40-plus scholarship offers. He also had a nearly 10-minute commitment video with Rivals.com.
The nation’s No. 1 CB prospect (247Sports Composite) announced his top 4 schools on Father’s Day. He also announced he would be moving up his commitment some five months from a previously-planned December 1, 2020 date.
The 5-star recruit was able to take just one visit to Georgia earlier this year before National Signing Day for the 2020 class back in February.
It was an impactful trip for both parties. Georgia was basically hanging on by a thread as one of his top 12 schools prior to that trip. Grimes shared the reasons why with DawgNation in a lengthy conversation here.
The Bulldogs quickly moved up as one of the core teams in his recruitment off that one trip.
Texas A&M had the earliest momentum in this recruitment. They were also the first school to secure a future official visit prior to the pandemic. But the Aggies did lose substantial built-up relationship equity when former DBs coach Maurice Linguist took a similar position at the first of the year with the Dallas Cowboys.
Ohio State has an impressive track record of sending cornerbacks to the NFL as first-round draft picks, but the staff recently brought Kerry Combs back from the NFL to serve as defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator. Combs returned to Ohio State in late January.
Check out the junior highlight reel for Grimes below.
Tony Grimes: What might have been with UGA
This is a decision that might have been different if not for the global pandemic. Grimes had hoped to learn more about Georgia back in mid-March. He had several planned visits prior to the shutdown of all on-campus recruiting activity.
The 5-star had already planned an official visit that was going to be earlier this month to UGA. That was the official that Grimes and his father told DawgNation the Bulldogs had earned after that one trip to Athens earlier this year.
He was set to take part in a 7-on-7 Tournament in Atlanta for the weekend of March 15. There was a trip planned to see Georgia and Georgia Tech on that same weekend with a few of his 7-on-7 teammates.
“Of course we want to visit Georgia more,” his father Deon Glover said back in March. “We love it. We love the coaches there. We talk to them all the time. I want to visit the program more with Tony to kind of get around the team a little bit. See the camaraderie and see how it all flows with being around them.”
That was important back then. Even with that Dec. 1 deadline way down the road.
“We’ve been to enough schools to say ‘Hey if push came to shove and we need to make a decision now we can make a decision now’ and we’ve been to enough schools multiple times to be able to say that,” Glover said. “At least with the schools we like. We’ve been multiple times. With the exception of Georgia.”
They were about to do all the due diligence and research necessary to fix that.
“What’s going on at Georgia is elite mimic energy that you see in Clemson and some of the other top programs,” Glover said back in March. “With the program itself. We learned a lot when we were down there the first time and of course, we were going to go back this time in March and go back again in April.”
“We had an official visit set up for June 12. We had put the gas in there with Georgia. Trying to get as much as we can about Georgia in a short period of time. But with those other schools, we have already got enough information on them. For real.”