Zeph Grimes committed to Illinois. The star of the powerful Bamberg-Ehrhardt Red Raiders picked the Illini over offers from Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan State, Mississippi and Northwestern, among others. He is a soft-spoken young man, but his coach Kevin Crosby sings his praises.
"He's a great player. He's a hard-nosed kid, he's a leader on the field and in the weight room. He's a kid that makes a lot of our checks on defense, a lot of our calls.
"He's a guy we organize our defense around because he's so fast and physical. He's an all-around great kid. He's a pleasure to be around."
The 6'-0", 200 pounder recorded numerous sacks on the 2009 season. Crosby explains how he chose to use Grimes.
"He played SAM linebacker for us. We play him over the #2 receiver like a safety, but a lot of times on third down situations we put him on the line of scrimmage because no one can block him coming off the edge.
"He sacked the quarterback a lot. This kid's fast and physical. He's got a knack for the football. And he's a strong kid. He weighs 202 and bench presses 320.
"We play him where we do because we knew people couldn't block him. He's our most physical guy, so when teams run the ball we put him up on the line of scrimmage. He took on fullbacks and offensive linemen. He's just that kind of kid."
Illini outside linebacker coach Ron West has a long-term relationship with Crosby dating from his ten years at Clemson. Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning is also familiar with Crosby. The two may have some trouble deciding where to play Grimes.
"Coach Vic likes him at safety, and Coach West likes him at the SAM linebacker for them," Crosby relates. Coach West likes him at safety too, and he thinks he's quick enough to play some corner."
Grimes's early decision came in part due to a preference by Crosby for his athletes to complete the recruiting process prior to the start of their senior seasons.
"Down here at Bamberg, we've had Rickey Sapp and Daequan Bowers (and several others). The kids look at the recruiting process, and they look at the teams that come at them the hardest early.
"They don't want to wait until late into the season. We don't believe in waiting and doing the hat trick. We get it over with and let it go out the window after that."
Crosby accompanied Grimes and teammate Demetrius Williams on their trip to Illinois the weekend of April 3rd. He can vouche for the immediate attraction his star had for the Illini team and campus.
"He went on the trip, and he loved it. As soon as he got off the plane, he said he felt different than anywhere else. He met with Coach Vic at the Varsity Room, and they went off from there. He fell in love with it."