Grimes Making Most of Opportunity

Jeff Samardzija's absence from most spring practices leaves opportunity for the other receivers. Speedy sophomore David Grimes could be the prime beneficiary. At practice on Saturday morning, the 5-foot-10 Grimes was working with the first unit opposite Rhema McKnight during the first sequence of drills.

"I'm just taking advantage of my reps," Grimes said. "Playing the game and reading the defenses, getting my routes down.

"Just taking my opportunity to improve my overall game. We all know what Jeff is capable of."

Last season, Grimes made two catches for 19 yards, and also touched the ball on two reverses gaining eight yards. Where Grimes made his niche last season, however, was as the Irish's top return man. He had 15 returns for a team-high 338 yards (22.5 avg) for a unit that struggled. Head coach Charlie Weis pointed out at the first spring press conference that he was happy with his punt-return game, but the kick-return unit has to get better.

"You have to initially simplify your scheme so that everyone knows what to do," Weis said when asked how he planned to improve kick returns after practice Saturday. "Secondly, you put people in position to go ahead and do that and evaluate them just like you would an offensive and defensive player. And three, lets see if we can't get the returners back there that we think, whether it's David or D.J. or whether it's George West. I don't care who it is but we need to start getting the ball passed the 30-yard line on a regular basis. We can't be settling, unless it's a touchback, we can't be settling for the ball on the 24-yard line. We need to get it outside the 30."

Grimes obviously understands that and realizes what he needs to do to get better. "I think just overall hitting holes, and finding the seams and reading my blocks, cutting off my blockers backside," Grimes said.

A 40-yard return against Purdue, a season long, showed Grimes potential. He had a 33-yard return against BYU. As the number two punt returner, Grimes had a return of 17 yards against Navy, his only opportunity of the season.

The coaches already know what every returning player's potential is as a return man. Freshman George West and fellow early enrollee James Aldridge will get their opportunity to show what they can do as a kick returner this spring. M.O<

"I'm going to put the guy back there that gives us the best opportunity to win," Weis said.

Appearing in all 12 games, football slowed down a bit for Grimes midway through the season.

"My first catch was against Michigan State and it was pretty fast," he said. "It slowed down in the next several weeks. As I take my reps it just becomes repetitive and you get used to it."

Grimes could fill the role of the graduated Matt Shelton. Built out of the same mold, Grimes possesses the ability to be the guy that stretches the field in Weis' offense. This spring he is getting ample opportunity to prove he is that guy. Top Stories