Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt and defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley are known for their ability to coach and develop defensive backs into NFL prospects. That’s helped the Vols land some solid contributors at cornerback and safety over the last couple years, and now Tennessee is one of the top contenders for the highest-rated cornerback in the 2021 class.
Tony Grimes, a five-star corner from Virginia Beach, celebrated his birthday on Wednesday by trimming down his list of suitors to eight, and the Vols made the cut. Tennessee was joined by Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State, Penn State, Texas A&M, North Carolina, and Virginia in Grimes’ list of top teams.
— Tony Grimes (@757EliteDB) April 9, 2020
According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, the standout corner who plays for Princess Anne High School is the No. 7 overall prospect and No. 1 cornerback in the 2021 cycle.
The Vols extended an offer to Grimes way back on April 14, 2018, becoming one of the first SEC schools to give him an offer. Tennessee wasn’t on his original list of top teams earlier in his recruitment, but they’ve soared into his list of favorites.
“Tennessee shot in at the last minute,” Grimes told Brian Dohn of 247Sports. “One, they play freshmen, but that really doesn’t matter because where I go, I feel like I’m going to start since I am putting in the work and doing what I have to do. But I’ve been talking to (defensive coordinator and defensive backs) coach (Derrick) Ansley.”
Grimes has been to UT’s campus twice already, coming for the first time during the 2018 season in November when the Vols hosted Kentucky and upset the Wildcats, and he returned to Knoxville for an unofficial visit on March 31, 2019.
Though it’s been over a year since Grimes has been on Tennessee’s campus, the Vols have gotten back into his recruitment and could be a team to watch moving forward.
The 6-foot, 180-pound corner was timed running a 4.20-second shuttle time and posted a 33.8-inch vertical leap back in April of 2018. He’s a multi-sport athlete who also participates in track and field, running the 100, 200, 55, and 300-meter while also participating in the long jump.
One of the first things that stands out about Grimes is his speed. He’s very quick and can explode out of cuts. Grimes possesses great vision and instincts, and he has the ability to play multiple positions. He has the frame and ball skills to play safety, but he has the speed and fluid hip movement to play corner.
As a junior for Princess Anne, Grimes totaled 48 tackles and four interceptions.
Grimes plans on committing on December 1st of this year, and he does not currently have a public leader in his recruitment.
The Vols have nine players committed to them in their 2021 class currently, and three of those prospects project as defensive backs. Three-star safety Edwin White, three-star athlete Nate Evans, and three-star cornerback Jay Jones are all expected to play in the secondary in college.