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Deon Glover/ Courtesy photo
Tony Grimes is the nation's No. 1 cornerback prospect for the class of 2021 on the 247Sports Composite.

Tony Grimes: ‘Guts’ and helping others shape the story of the nation’s No. 1 CB prospect

Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry gives DawgNation a chance to get to know 5-star CB Tony Grimes for a lot more than what he can do on a football field. 

There was this one memorable play Tony Grimes made at a football field.

It was not captured by the eye in the sky. It did not go viral. It will not appear on any highlight tape, but it had a lot to do with his field of vision.

This took place just off to the side of the practice field. His father, Deon Glover, will beam with pride as he tells that story.

Grimes now makes the same move every Friday in-season during the pregame meal. He goes behind the practice field to make a friend. She will now feel like an old friend this season.

He went to go check on a woman. Glover and Grimes both believe she is homeless, but she seems to be a fan of their Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.) team.

“She sits at the back of our football field and she always watches our practice,” Tony Grimes said. “Since forever she has been watching us practice. So on game days, I brought her out a plate of food out one time. After that, she and I had a good conversation. Then before every game, I will bring her some money and some food. Or just some food.”

Glover never saw her before. Grimes did. He even thought to bring her a blanket.

“He just said he didn’t know why,” Glover said. “Just said that he sees her out there every day and that she was always watching us practice. Tony said his heart just went out to her and he just wanted to help her.”

Grimes still doesn’t know her name, but he has a nickname for her. She has a nickname for him, too.

“She calls me ‘Guts’ and I don’t know why she calls me ‘Guts’ but she does,” Grimes said. “I think because it takes guts to come out and give a homeless person food every single Friday.”

It takes a plate of food to see Grimes with more depth that his status as the nation’s No. 1 cornerback (247Sports Composite rating) for the 2021 cycle. He is establishing a history of reaching out to his community like that.

Grimes is already affiliated with a seasonal ministry in his community.

“It is called Provision for the Seasons,” Glover said. “We go out every season and just do different stuff.”

Grimes has a talent for locking down receivers. And also spotting folks that appear down on their luck.

“I can spot out a homeless person easily,” he said. “I was just going around and finding people. It just warms my heart to see the homeless be grateful. Some homeless people don’t care and then others are grateful. It is just so perfect to me when we get to do that.”

Glover couldn’t believe their first lap about their Virginia Beach community.

“We started driving around and Tony located every single person that was in need,” Glover said. “I was like how does he know they need something but he just automatically knew.”

They would pull up near the oceanfront. Grimes would yell “who’s hungry” and would just know by seeing those people every day. He’d want to make sure they got at least a cup of hot chocolate.

“That’s because he was that dialed in,” Glover said. “He noticed those people every day.”

Grimes is also an excellent student with a 3.8 grade-point average. He will graduate early and enroll with his future team in January of 2021.

Truth be told, he is so far ahead in his coursework that he could have reclassified into the 2020 class.

“The reason why that is so important to me is that without football I would still want to go to college,” he said. “I’d be looking for an academic scholarship. The reason grades are important to me is in college you still can’t do anything in college without grades. I still have to go to class. Still have to make a certain GPA to be on the team.”

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Tony Grimes works with an off-season ministry delivering food and other essential items to those in needs in his Virginia Beach community. (Tony Grimes/Contributed photo)

Tony Grimes and UGA: The 180-degree visit 

When the subject of Georgia came up at The Future 50, Grimes brought up history.  The Bulldogs didn’t offer as early as other programs did.

“I understand why they didn’t throw the offer out early but you can’t expect me to wash all these other colleges out when you came in the game late,” he said on December 31. “But I still like what they are doing with the program and I respect them because Coach Glenn [Schumann] has been keeping up with me and some of the other coaches there have also been keeping up with me.”

Glover will still kid Schumann about that to this day. Their relationship has reached the point where they can chide one another about that.

“It was rocky for Georgia at first,” Glover said.

Schumann came to the school when Grimes was a freshman. The Georgia offer then came during his third recruiting cycle visit. The Bulldogs couldn’t get a visit date set because Grimes wanted to see all the schools that had been recruiting him harder first.

There was some confusion about when Georgia offered him. Georgia defensive backs coach Charlton Warren would later let it be known that Grimes should have been offered when he first arrived in Athens.

When the topic comes up, Glover said he still puts Schumann “on blast” about everything.

“I pulled coach Schumann to the side and kidded that we were going to have to duke it out,” Glover said while laughing. “That’s my guy, though. ‘Coach Schu’ is my guy. He is good people. He is really good people.”

Grimes echoed that at the Future 50. Georgia had to have a strong visit to stay in the race for the nation’s No. 6 overall prospect for this cycle.

“So I am going to give them a chance,” he said before a mid-January trip. “But if I go down there and don’t feel like it is home or I don’t feel good about it or I don’t bond with the coaches then I am not going to go there.”

The Bulldogs were going to have a hard time keeping up with Clemson, Penn State and Texas A&M. Those schools had already locked up official visits.

Georgia now has, too.

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Tony Grimes got the full 5-star treatment when he took his first visit to UGA back in January (Deon Glover/Twitter)

Consider this passage to be the before/after picture when it comes to what the Georgia staff does very well when hosting a priority recruit.

“I’m glad I took that visit,” Grimes said. “That visit was amazing. That visit was so good that I added them to one of my official visits.”

Clemson, Georgia, Penn State and Texas A&M have those OV slots.

For now.

“Anything can happen as of right now,” he said.

Those dates are undetermined. But he does know that he wants to commit on December 1, 2020.

“I am not going to lie I was just on Instagram and then that date just popped into my head,” Grimes said of the genesis of that specific date.

Grimes said that Smart and Warren endorse his film. They see him as a ‘Dawg.

“They tell me that if I come in and put in the work that I am supposed to and I get that playbook down then I am going to be on that field for them,” he said. “For sure”

He wants to play around other great players That’s why both he visited Georgia in tandem with elite 2021 cornerback Isaiah Johnson. But he will also redline the confidence that elite defensive backs must have these days.

“I’m going to be different from every other ‘DB’ I play with regardless,” he said. “Because I am going to be the man. I am going to be that dude. When I step on that field on that defense they are all going to know who Tony Grimes is. They are going to know that Tony Grimes is different.”

Grimes is passionate about his game. If he gives up a single catch in a game or a 7-on-7 tournament, well then that just wasn’t his best day.

He will aim to set the tone.

“The team leader, the swag, the hype and all of that,” he said. “Combined into one. It is going to be different because I am from the 757 [area code] and when you are from the 757, we breed differently.”

Former Virginia safety Quin Blanding inspires him, along with a long line of great football players from the 757. Those names will include Dre’ Bly, Plaxico Burress, Kam Chancellor, DeAngelo Hall, Percy Harvin, Bruce Smith, Lawrence Taylor and Michael Vick, among countless others.

Grimes plays both ways for his high school team. It is a magnet school where there are probably only about 15 players who would be considered as a quality varsity player. There are maybe 10-12 who have any sort of college potential.

Receiver clips are all over his junior film.

 

Tony Grimes: A little more depth on Georgia 

That previous passage is a good measure of Grimes. While that food plate and community outreach stuff shows off a very mature side, he’s still a teenager.

Young men are creatures of their expanding minds and options. Grimes is an impulse surfer who still lets Instagram thoughts steer a commitment date.

He will view his No. 1 as just the “cleanest” number out there. He sounds just like a high school kid should at times. But also flashes growth and maturity in other moments.

“I always thought No. 1 was like the goat number,” he said. “All the real ones wear number one. So when I went to high school I wanted to wear No. 1 and got No. 1. I wore it throughout the season and all my years in high school. If they would have had a number zero, I would have most definitely gotten the number zero.”

How did Georgia stand out on that difference-making visit? Grimes used the term “greatests” to describe it.

“It was different when I talked to coach [Charlton] Warren and coach Kirby Smart,” he said. “Those two right there are the greatest in the game right now. One of the greatests in the game right now.”

He shared a recipe at the Future 50. It detailed all the checkmarks the school that signs him have to earn his commitment and signature.

It was:

  • A great personal relationship with a coaching staff
  • Does it feel like home?
  • Stability in the coaching staff
  • Can they develop him for the next level?
  • Does the strength and conditioning coach develop their players for the NFL?
  • What success has the school had in developing players at his position?
  • What is the value of the degree and the education at that school?

It seems fitting to compare that formula to how he feels about Georgia at this time.

“Just the coaching staff,” he said. “Coach [Charlton] Warren and coach Kirby Smart. That’s the one main thing that I like. When I think of Georgia, it is coach Kirby Smart and coach Warren. The two best, well two of the best DB coaches, in the college game right now.”

How does he feel about the development of DBs at Georgia?

“They are doing really well,” Grimes said. “They are trying to build that thing into a real ‘DBU’ and they are trying to make that secondary unbelievable and I love that they are doing that. Because honestly, the ‘DBs’ win games. To me, the DBs win the games.”

Glover noticed something immediately about UGA. He started by calling it a rare “charisma.”It blew him away from the jump.

“It is an ability to connect and I’m telling you every coach does not have it,” Glover said. “But the elite coaches do. I don’t even think it is a skill. It is just the person you are. That Mack Brown-type of thing and with coach Smart I swear it oozes out of him. It oozes out of his staff. That was the thing that popped for us. We weren’t expecting that at all from Georgia.”

He summed up the magnitude of that visit quite clearly.

“Georgia wasn’t even one of his top 13 schools,” Glover said. “After one visit and after mingling with the coaching staff for one visit, they have got an official visit set up.”

Glover mentioned two vivid things he likes the most about Georgia. The first is that he interprets that Smart is not going anywhere. That speaks to the stability they are looking for.

“I also believe the quality [of the character] of the recruit you bring in to the program is super important to the future success of the program,” Glover said.

Tony Grimes: A unique family story at work

Deon Glover is his father. Grimes refers to him as his “Dad” often. They visit together and he is wound tightly in his life. Glover also coaches his son along with all the other defensive backs at Princess Anne in Virginia.

DawgNation was told his biological father is not in the picture and he is currently incarcerated. But it was also made clear this situation is certainly on very amenable terms.

“I want you to know one thing about [his] natural Dad,” Glover said. “Even though he has experienced some unfortunate things and has never been around. He is 100 percent in approval of me as being the Dad of his sons. .. The things I have done. How I father.”

Glover married his mother over a decade ago. He has been in Tony’s life for almost a decade, but Grimes came to him with a request when he was in the seventh grade.

His mother, Nickey Glover, describes it best. Glover has been there for all of her children, including Tony’s twin brother. Tino Grimes is also a high school wrestler.

“Deon has been a father figure in their lives since I think about the second grade,” she said. “Since he has been in Tony’s life and Tino’s lives as a father figure, he has wanted him to be his father and to take on his last name.”

Those two will describe themselves as tough parents. They are hard and real with all of their children because they understand what it means to grow up in America in the year 2020. Truth be told, Glover said that their mother is the “hammer” parent. He’s the lightweight when it comes to that.

The plan is for Grimes to change his name to Tony Grimes-Glover when the right time comes. It is not the exact story, but it brings to mind what it is in the works with 2020 Georgia signee Sedrick Van Pran-Granger.

“His natural Dad is 100 percent in approval of that,” Glover said. “Even down to the name change. He is on board with it all.”

At first, Grimes said that when Glover came into his life that it was about making his mother happy. He just wanted to see his Mom happy.

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Grimes and Glover took this picture together at the Under Armour All-American Game last month in Orlando. (Deon Glover/Contributed photo)

There’s another wrinkle here. Glover is also an author. He published the book “Turning the Hearts of Fathers Back to Their Children” in 2007. The work, which calls to mind Malachi 4:6, is available on Amazon.

The item description details Glover as a minister, an executive director of a non-profit, inner-city youth counselor and a panel member of a weekly radio talk show.

“He did what a father figure does,” Grimes said. “So that’s why he’s my father. He came in and took care of me and my brother and he made it happen for us.”

With a resume like that, what has Glover meant to Grimes?

“Everything,” Grimes said. “Everything I can imagine of. He has helped me grow up to be a better man.”

That’s a father-son and player-coach relationship at work here.

“I will say being the DB,” Grimes said when asked if it is harder being the son or the player in their relationship. “He pushes me like no one else has. Every when I’ve got those days like ‘Yo’ because to me I’m self-motivated. But when I mess up on a play, but I will be ‘Ok next play’ but sometimes I think like I need to go ask him what I did wrong and he tells me and gives it to me straight.”

“He is not going to sugarcoat or anything like that.”

The example set has instilled the need to go further. He told Glover that he wanted to enroll in summer school on his own. He wanted to go ahead and finish up his requirements in English early after the 10th grade.

When Princess Anne hired a new coach before last season, he was in on the interview process. That’s a pretty telling feat for a rising high school junior.

Grimes, the youngest of four brothers, has that same mature outlook on what football can bring to his life. The future business major has a specific plan.

It certainly sounds like he wants to keep extending a hand.

“Coaching or helping other players get better going into their development and their strength and conditioning,” he said. “Something most definitely back in my hometown. Build something up for all the athletes that would be able to relate to me coming up from the same place. Not just work out but talk to them. Motivational speeches.”

He also aspires to hand out more food plates.

“I am going to open up a program that is like a homeless shelter. It is going to be a huge homeless shelter. Somewhere they can get back on their feet type of thing.”

 

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