For the past few weeks there has been speculation that 2021 5✮ CB Tony Grimes was well ahead of his original December 1st timetable to shut down his commitment. On Sunday morning those speculations were justified, as the nation’s No. 1 cornerback is now just nine days away from revealing his decision.
From the Tar Heel perspective, Grimes’s recruitment has been a successful one so far and there is reason to go into his commitment with confidence. After a great start from Texas A&M and Georgia to begin his recruitment, the Tar Heel staff established a strong relationship with the Virginia-based corner, especially during the quarantine period. Grimes was expected to hold off until after the season to make his decision in hopes of being able to get on campuses for official visits, but instead will go ahead and make his decision now.
The likely reason for that is a combination of two things. One has to be the fact of what we have seen around college football and the sports world in general over the past few days in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak. The number of cases around the sports world has seen a severe uptick in recent weeks, something that was expected to be seen when teams and individuals began their returns and mass testing started. Still, we’ve seen schools like Kansas State shut down their facilities for two weeks after 14 players tested positive for the virus upon their return to campus, sparking widespread concern about just how plausible playing the 2020 season is. You have to feel that that possibility combined with the fact that the recruiting process has started to wear on him over the past few months is a big reason why Grimes has decided to move his decision up.
So who is the favorite going in? Honestly, it’s hard not to say the Tar Heels are, albeit by a slight margin, the favorites going in. 247Sports’s Crystal Ball predictions are currently heavily favoring Carolina, with each of the last six predictions going the way of Mack Brown’s crew, including one recently cast today by 247Sports Director of Football Recruiting Steve Wiltfong, who has hit on 271 of his 273 predictions this season. Rivals is a little more split on their predictions, although big names like Adam Friedman and Mike Farrell are currently predicting Carolina as his landing spot as of Monday afternoon.
The biggest challenger to the Tar Heels right now is Georgia, who was the heavy favorite according to the predictors at Rivals as of yesterday, is now losing some stream, but is still just a slight favorite on their site. The Bulldogs have been steadily in the race since establishing an early edge and after some thought they might miss out on a spot in top three, they snuck in when Grimes expanded his final group to four before releasing. Since then, the Bulldogs have made a push and still have a shot at landing him next week.
The other team that poses a threat to Carolina at this juncture is Texas A&M, but they seem like an outside shot at this point. The Aggies had some great early momentum and are the team that Grimes has taken the most visits to, but a change at DB’s coach hurt them in the middle of the process. Although they have recovered and even made a push here late, distance has to be a concern for them, as Grimes has said that distance will play a major factor because of just how close-knit the family is.
Ohio State is the fourth team in his final four, but the belief at this point is that both sides have seemingly cut ties with each other. The Buckeyes had their time where they made a significant push in the middle of the recruitment, but their concerns about his overall ability as a pure cover corner has Grimes being third in line at a cornerback position where they are already in good shape in this class. Because of that, it looks like the ties have all but been clipped between the Buckeyes and 5✮ corner.
The last time that the Tar Heels landed a commitment from a player that was a Composite top ten prospect was way back in 2007. While Georgia and Texas A&M have made late surges in this recruitment, I think the relationships and distance is just too much for Grimes to ignore here.
Prediction: North Carolina