The commitment of five-star cornerback Tony Grimes to North Carolina is a historic one. Grimes is the second-highest ranked commitment for the Tar Heels in the modern internet recruiting era.
The 6-foot, 180-pound cornerback from Princess Anne High School in Virginia Beach, Va. is the No. 7 overall player and No. 1 cornerback in the nation, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Grimes’s 0.9953 Composite rating makes him UNC’s No. 2 all-time ranked recruit behind former Tar Heel defensive tackle Marvin Austin, who signed with Carolina in 2007 as the No. 4 overall player in the 247Sports Composite rankings, with a Composite rating of 0.9979. Rounding out the all-time top five for UNC are Donte Moss (0.9876), Dwight Jones (0.9866), and James Hurst (0.9816).
The industry-generated 247Sports Composite ranking, which dates back to 2002, takes into consideration the rankings from the major high school recruiting services, which is presently 247Sports, Rivals, and ESPN.
Grimes is ranked the No. 20 overall player and No. 2 cornerback in the nation by 247Sports. Rivals.com has Grimes ranked No. 13 nationally, while ESPN has Grimes as No. 6 overall player in the nation.
Grimes is expected to enroll early at North Carolina in January of 2021.
247Sports Recruiting Analyst Brian Dohn compares Grimes to Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller and slots the new UNC commitment as a potential first-round pick. “Grimes has wide shoulders and good length. He has the frame of safety with cornerback skills. Instinctual player with high skill level. Physical and smooth. Tracks ball well and has great timing. Opens hips and runs with ease. Long strider who can cover on long crossing routes and deep throws. Strong upper body helps re-route receivers with jams. Comfortable in backpedal and explodes forward out of it. Good tackler and asset in run defense. High IQ on and off-field. Leadership qualities. Must get stronger in lower body. Ready to play at elite program when he steps on campus. First-round NFL draft pick potential.”
Grimes’s pledge to North Carolina gives the Tar Heels 17 commitments for the 2021 class and moves UNC to No. 3 in the 247Sports Composite team rankings, behind only Ohio State and Clemson.
The Tar Heels now have 12 four or five-star prospects committed for 2021. Grimes is one of just three UNC commitments not from the state of North Carolina. The Virginia native now joins South Carolina wide receiver J.J. Jones and Tennessee offensive tackle Eli Sutton on Carolina’s commitment list.
UNC cornerbacks coach Dre Bly led the recruitment of Grimes to North Carolina. Like Grimes, Bly is from the Tidewater region of Virginia. This is Bly’s first major win on the recruiting trail since he got to North Carolina in December of 2018.
“I love Dre,” Grimes said of Bly in the spring. “He knows where we came up from, and how hard it is because he did it. He was ‘The Man’ at UNC. He went to UNC. In the Hall Fame, Pro Bowl, Super Bowl. I love Dre.”
Grimes is not the only high-level recruit for the Tar Heels in 2021. North Carolina has commitments from quarterback Drake Maye, the No. 48 overall prospect and No. 5 pro-style quarterback, and Keeshawn Silver, the No. 62 ranked prospect and the No. 5 strong-side defensive end. Tar Heel pledges Gavin Blackwell, RaRa Dillworth, and Jahvaree Ritize are also all top 150 ranked players in the 247Sports Composite.