Grimm Delivers a Sizable Contribution

Hokies' LB Sets the Tone for Defense

Virginia Tech football head coach Frank Beamer talks about his team upsetting Duke in last week's game and looks ahead to the Hokies' matchup against Boston College.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 7, 2009

BLACKSBURG, Va., Oct. 6 -- Cody Grimm was viewed as a more promising lacrosse prospect out of Oakton High School, and his only football scholarship offer was from division I-AA William & Mary. But he has made up for his physical deficiencies -- he stands only 5 feet 11 -- with football savvy and toughness. Now on scholarship as a fifth-year senior linebacker at Virginia Tech, Grimm has defied expectations to become a key component of the Hokies' defense and special teams units, and perhaps the team's best overall player.

"That scholarship has paid off very, very well for us," Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer said. "We're the ones that were lucky there."

In a 34-26 win Saturday over Duke, Grimm made a career-high 14 tackles, two for a loss. He was named the ACC defensive back of the week for the performance.

But defensive coordinator Bud Foster also challenged Grimm and the other seniors by saying veteran leadership was lacking in the preparation for the game. The Blue Devils had five passes of 20 or more yards. While Grimm said he has tried to lead by example, the thought of being a team leader never crossed his mind when he was a walk-on.

"I saw myself maybe playing special teams, getting dressed and hanging out with the guys," Grimm said this week as the No. 5 Hokies (4-1, 2-0) prepare to host Boston College (4-1, 2-1) on Saturday. "It's pretty cool."

While his emergence might have been hard to predict, Grimm grew up around football.

Though he was too young to remember much about them, Grimm went to Washington Redskins games to watch his father, Russ Grimm, a Pro Bowl offensive lineman as a member of the franchise's famous "Hogs" of the 1980s and early 1990s. When he was in middle school and high school, Grimm attended training camp practices and film sessions with his father, who later worked as an assistant coach for the Redskins and Pittsburgh Steelers.

"It doesn't hurt when you're around it and seeing different looks and watching film with me, but the instinct thing, some kids have it and some kids don't," Russ Grimm, now the assistant head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, said in a telephone interview. "Ever since he was little, in peewee league, they'd run a reverse, they'd have 20 guys running opposite way, and he'd be the one guy chasing the reverse."

But at Oakton High in Vienna, Grimm was also a lacrosse standout. He helped lead Oakton to three state championships and was an all-American midfielder recruited by schools such as Georgetown, Loyola and Virginia. Grimm's younger brother, Dylan, plays at Loyola.

Most major football programs only sent their assistant coaches to visit Grimm, with offers to take him as a walk-on. Grimm picked Virginia Tech over Pittsburgh, which also recruited him to walk on.

Although his older brother, Chad, was a Hokies linebacker, Grimm said he was initially unsure if he had the talent and size to play at Virginia Tech. He received an eye-opening welcome when he met two of his suitemates: hulking former defensive lineman William Wall and 283-pound tight end Greg Boone, then a high-profile quarterback prospect.

"William Wall looked like he was about 30, and he was like 6-3," said Grimm, who weighed 183 pounds as a freshman. "I remember watching Greg Boone's highlight tape he showed us freshman year. It was ridiculous."

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