For the last 20 years, Andy Linn has coached on the staff at Lafayette (Va.). The last six have been as head coach. And for all the football players that have come through, Linn said few have been as gifted as Hezekiah Grimsley.
Grimsley became commitment No. 10 for Virginia Tech Friday morning when he gave his pledge. Though he still has work to do, if nothing else, to maintain his high level of play, Linn said the Hokies have gotten a dynamic playmaker.
Last season, Grimsley finished with 38 catches for 1,065 yards and 13 touchdowns. He added three touchdowns as a defensive back, three as a punt returner and one as a kickoff returner. There weren’t too many times that Grimsley wasn’t on the field.
“Anytime the ball’s in his hands, he’s a threat to take it to score every time,” Linn said. “He’s a great punt returner, he’s a great wide receiver. He’s as dangerous with the ball in his hands as anyone we’ve ever had. And as a person, he’s just a great kid. He comes to school, he comes to weight lifting, then goes to work. That’s about the extent of it. He’s not a real exciting guy out there, doing anything wild and crazy, but he’s the kind you’d like to have about 20 of, because you never have to worry about him.
“You want him out there every chance you can get. He’s not on kickoff and he’s not on punts, although I think we might have him punt this year. Other than those two, he’s not off the field.”
But wide receiver is where Grimsley excels. And it’s where Virginia Tech plans to put him to good use in its spread offense.
“He’s an unbelievable wide receiver,” Linn said. “He doesn’t drop the ball and he’s got such a catching radius. He’s about 6’1” but his catching radius is unbelievable. His arms are so long, he’s just really fluid and he just makes every catch that comes to him.”
Grimsley has grown a bit over the past few years, to create a few matchup problems for opposing defenses. But Linn said he believes Grimsley would make big plays in the slot or split out wide.
“You know, you could use him either place,” Linn said. “I would have thought, a couple of years ago when he was a sophomore, slot was gonna be where he was headed because he wasn’t tall. He’s up to 6’1” now and his older brother ended up at like, 6’4” so he might have a little more growth in him.”
That growth, plus his catching ability make him an ideal fir for the Hokies in Linn’s mind.
“With what Coach Fuente does on offense, it’s all similar to Memphis, or I imagine it’s going to be,” Linn said. “(Grimsley) is a perfect fit. It’s a little bit of timing offense, a little bit of timing throws, Hezzy’s perfect for that stuff. He’s perfect in any offense that’s gonna put the ball in the air, I can tell you that.”
Since Grimsley joined the varsity level as a sophomore, Linn said he’s seen a number of improvements. Many of those have come off the field, however, even before the season.
“In the last two years, he’s increased his strength two-fold, easily,” Linn said. “He really buckled down two years ago, before his junior year. He really buckled down and made himself into something physically, which kinda added to the natural skills he had and made him just really tough to defend.”
Aside from adding punting to his repertoire, Grimsley could be in for an even bigger senior season. Linn believes he’s on the right track for Virginia Tech. But Grimsley has to keep going.
“The first thing he needs to do is concentrate on his academics, make sure those stay where they need to be,” Linn said. “The rest is just do like he did last year, just prepare the same way he did last year for the season and approach it the same way. Football doesn’t change. There’s nothing to say you’re not gonna be as successful, if not more, because now you’re bigger, stronger and faster. He just needs to make sure the grades stay where they are and then go out and play. I think him committing will be great for him because he won’t have to worry about it anymore. There’s no, 100 phone calls or text messages a week, but I know there will be some.”