Digging Out of the Hole

David Grimes has come a long way. Four years ago, he entered Notre Dame as a discreet wide out, merely looking for a way to find the field. Playing behind talents such as Jeff Samardzija, Maurice Stovall and Rhema McKnight, Grimes didn't have to be the vocal leader of the bunch. Now, it's his turn to direct the offensive unit, and the squad as a whole.

Joining Maurice Crum Jr., and David Bruton, David Grimes was selected as one of the three captains for the 2008 season. Head coach Charlie Weis never would have thought that this group would be the leaders of the team as seniors, not because of their play, but more so because of their mild manner off the field.

"Well, first of all, when the captains were originally appointed, Mo Crum and David Grimes and David Bruton, but when I first got here, if you would have thought that the chance of any one of those guys being a captain, okay, it would have been minimal, because none of them ever opened their mouth," Weis said. "They never talked. And these guys have grown into the type of leader that doesn't have to be the rah rah, win one for the Gipper type thing; they're more show by example and are willing to open themselves to being more verbal to the way of doing things. And I think that our team responds very favorably to that type of mentality. And it's kind of trickled down from the top right on through all the way to the freshmen."

For the St. Martin DePorres High School product, being selected as one of the team captains is quite the accomplishment, especially since it shows that he has gained his teammates respect and trust.

"It means a lot," he said. "It means I have their respect. These guys look up to me, I have to be accountable not only for what I do, but for what they do. This whole leadership thing is more than just a captain on the field, it's also being there for the guys off the field as well, so it's definitely an honor."

Throughout the past couple of seasons, Grimes has been the most experienced wide receiver of the unit, and as a result, players have taken advantage of his knowledge and time around the program.

"Most guys, they come to me to see if they can get certain things done and use me as a resource to talk to coaches and whatnot," Grimes said.

One of those players is second-year wide out, Duval Kamara, who had one of the most productive freshman receiver campaigns in the history of the program. Kamara has found himself looking towards Grimes when he needs any sort of advice.

"David's been that one guy that everyone can turn to when things get tough," Karama said. "He's one of those guys that leads by example on the field and off it too. I've found myself going to him in practice or in games and asking, ‘hey, on this sort of look, what should I do?' or ‘the defense is doing this, so what is the best thing for me to do?' and he's always there to point guys in the right direction."

Wide receivers coach, Rob Ianello has also taken notice that Grimes has become that player that everyone turns their head to when the team needs to move forward.

"Well David is like the elder statesmen around here now," Ianello said. "He's improved his game so much throughout the past year. He's always had the talent, but his time in the system is paying off, and it's really starting to show both on the field and in the locker room."

With this added title, Grimes has also seen an increase in his responsibilities and duties on the team. These range from added communication with the coaches to simply preparing his teammates for their assignments.

"Just getting the team ready to go day in and day out," he said. "Some days guys are like, ‘oh, it's practice,' then I come in with a smile on my face and try to get guys ready to go."

Since becoming one of the team captains Grimes has taken noticed that this 2008 squad is the one with the best solidarity he has seen in some years. According to him, it all starts and ends with confidence and passion for the sport.

"This is probably the best chemistry we've had in a while," Grimes said. "The guys, they really care. We've come a long way to not give up and play with a lot of confidence."

Despite an obvious heightened sense of cohesion among the team, the Detroit, Mich. native was hesitant to answer exactly what was the main reason behind the overall increase in camaraderie.

"I don't know," he said. "I really can't answer that. Coach Weis, he put a different system in the locker room, a system where the lockers are in numerical order, instead of by position, so I guess that's sort of forced guys to hang out more."

Can this change bring forth any positive results on the football field? Grimes certainly thinks so.

"Most definitely," he responded. "Because we stay together on the field and off it. The more we stay united, we have one goal, one vision and that's to win. Guys will put the team before themselves."

Weis certainly agrees that the implementation of his new system has begun to show its effects on the chemistry of the team.

"Yes, it can have chemistry because in many teams you'll see cliques, just like in everything else in life, you'll see cliques," Weis said. "And we tried to do some things in the off season a little different, even the way we assigned lockers in the locker room. That was even different. So that it wasn't just all the running backs with the running backs. Now it's numerical. And you could be sitting, an offensive player could be sitting next to a defensive player. It's all to get rid of the cliques, to get people to pull for them no matter what."

Although Grimes admits that he is not the most vocal of leaders, he still has some fire behind his play — an attitude he can credit his hometown for giving him.

"Being from Detroit, I've never been one to back down from a challenge," he said. "I never have, and I never will. Being from there taught me that when the odds aren't in your favor, you just have to push even harder to get out of the hole."

Days away from the start of the 2008 season, the Irish find themselves in just that — a hole that a 3-9 season helped excavate. Now Grimes must be one of those players that leads the unit from out of the abyss and into prominence.

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