Today has been a rough day for Tar Heel football with the opening of the transfer portal, especially on the defensive side of the football. Just a short time ago, the team suffered the biggest loss of the window so far when one of the highest-rated prospects that Mack Brown landed in his time at Carolina entered the portal.
On3 Sports’ Hayes Fawcett broke the news just a short time ago that cornerback Tony Grimes was entering the transfer portal. Grimes started 28 straight games for the Tar Heels over the last three years before missing the game with NC State due to an upper body injury and coming off the bench on Saturday night and playing just four snaps in the ACC Championship Game against Clemson. The former 5✮ recruit, who was one of the biggest commits in the history of the program at the time of his commitment, played 697 snaps for the team this season, finishing with 36 total tackles and seven pass deflections. In 383 coverage reps this season, he was targeted 45 times this season, the fewest of the starting corners, allowing 23 of those to be caught for 328 yards and three touchdowns. Grimes was never able to build on the promise that he showed as a true freshman back in 2020, where he allowed just eight of the 20 targets he saw in 188 coverage reps to be caught for a 33.1 quarterback rating. In the two seasons after that, he allowed a 93.4 and 97.3 rating respectively. Grimes will exit his Tar Heel career having played 2,159 snaps, 1,827 on the defensive of the football, and finishes with 97 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, 1.0 sack, one interception and 19 pass deflections.
With his departure, the Tar Heels are losing a significant veteran piece. Fellow starters Storm Duck and DeAndre Boykins are expected to return as of right now, but nothing is guaranteed. Lejond Cavazos and Marcus Allen, both of whom started on Saturday, showed some nice promise in the final two games of the season, but will now be counted on to step up and help fill the hole and help this defensive backfield be more consistent in coverage. The team still has some solid depth, especially with the influx of corners that will be coming in during the early signing period later this month, but this is an area that the team could still look to add someone from the portal, especially if one of the other two starters was to depart.
The Tar Heels have suffered some noteworthy losses in the portal today, but none is bigger than this. The defensive backfield will have a new look next season, which might be refreshing as we’ve seen in the past couple of games. However, losing the experience and potential that was still there for Grimes certainly can’t be passed off as nothing. Neither can the recruiting connections that his father has in the state of Virginia that will now be affected.