The 90 Illini #48: Zeph Grimes July 15, 2012
5′-11″, 220 lbs.
rs-Freshman (on scholarship, 4 years to play 4)
Bamberg-Ehrhardt HS / Bamberg, South Carolina
ALE Ranking last year: #72
What I Know About Him:
If I knew where Grimes was going to play, I’d have a much better idea of where to slot him. #48 seems to low for a guy who was our defensive Scout Team Player of the Year. Of course, maybe not. Whitney Mercilus was Scout Team Player of the Year, and he didn’t really play until his third season. So maybe #48 is just about right for Grimes.
But I still don’t know where he’s going to play. He was a safety in high school, and Vic Koenning recruited him to play the Busseybacker position in his defense. So last year, he moved from safety to Sam linebacker. This spring, he was working out with the inside linebackers (at least the two times I saw him). But the official roster lists him at “Star”, which is the new name for the formerly un-named Busseybacker position. Got all that? He’s not a safety. He might be a “star”. But he’s probably a Will or Mike ‘backer.
What I Expect From Him:
To make things more confusing, want to know what player Grimes reminds me of the most? Rahkeem Smith. He of outside-linebacker-to-fullback-to-defensive-tackle fame. Same stout, thick frame. He’s not as tall as Smith, nor is he as beefy, so I can’t see him eventually moving to defensive tackle. But freshman Zeph Grimes reminds me of freshman Rahkeem Smith.
My guess is that Grimes ends up at Will linebacker. I don’t think he’s a fit for the Star position (of course, I don’t really know how similar the Star position will be to what Trulon Henry did last year, so I reserve the right to change that opinion). Which means Grimes enters the logjam at WLB behind sophomore starter Houston Bates and sophomore backup Henry Dickinson. So maybe he’s moved to MLB, where he’d find the logjam behind junior starter BadNewsBrown and sophomore backup Ralph Cooper who will be pushed by freshmen like TJ Neal and Mason Monheim.
Hear that? Those are the problems that solid Big Ten teams have. For the Will and the Mike, we have six or seven well-regarded linebackers in the queue. The starters both had offers from LSU. Cooper and Dickinson played as true freshmen last year and showed promise. Coaches picked Grimes as the top redshirting player. TJ Neal had the best offer list of any of our incoming freshmen. And who knows what we’ll get from Mason Monheim and Mike Svetina. When I look 3-4 years into our future, I feel really good about the linebackers.