GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Life has thrown some difficult challenges at Trevon Grimes the last two years, but he’s still standing with a healed knee and a heavy heart.
The former 5-star wide receiver from St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) met with the media Thursday for the first time since transferring to Florida from Ohio State.
Judging by the smile across his face and his energy on the practice field, Grimes is happy with the decision and has adjusted to his new home. He was joking with teammates after practice and said the players have embraced him since his arrival.
But on his first day of classes in January, Grimes had mixed emotions as he made his way around campus.
“It was a bittersweet feeling,” he said. “But you can’t be down living at a place like this. That was the biggest reason I came.”
Less than month into his freshman season at Ohio State, Grimes left the Buckeyes football team because of a health issue with his mother, Leah Grimes. He joined her at home in South Florida and remained there for the rest of the fall.
After completing the semester through online classes, Grimes made the decision to leave his dream school — he grew two hours away from OSU in Indianapolis — and transferred to Florida.
“I just had some family issues that I had to deal with from back home with my mom,” Grimes said. “I wanted to get somewhere closer to home. At the end of the day, I knew that it had to be in Florida.
“I looked at Miami, I looked at Florida, I looked at Florida State, but I felt that Florida would give me the best opportunity. With the new coaching staff coming in, I would start fresh just like all the other players. I’m excited to be here.”
He has applied for a hardship waiver and hopes the NCAA will not force him to sit out the 2018 season. Grimes said the process is ongoing and he’s trying not to think about it while he waits.
Last year wasn’t the first time Grimes saw his football season end early. After winning a high school state title as a junior, Grimes tore an ACL five games into his senior campaign and was sidelined as the Raiders repeated in 2016.
Grimes saw action in just two games last season with the Buckeyes, catching 3 passes for 20 yards before taking a leave of absence.
“I was coming off a torn ACL, so I had a couple things that I had to adapt to and get back right,” Grimes said. “I feel like the little time off helped me a lot because I kind of got to just sit back and better myself. I worked on my game in the offseason, and coming up here I’m feeling 100 percent. I’m ready to go.”
Grimes looks forward to catching passes from Florida quarterbacks Jake Allen and Emory Jones. Allen was Grimes’ quarterback at St. Thomas Aquinas and he formed a relationship with Jones — a former Ohio State commit — during his recruiting process.
When Grimes decided on Florida in December, Allen and Jones were the first people to know.
“Me and Jake, we talked probably for a week straight every day. He was probably the first one to ever know that I was coming back to link up with him at Florida. He kept it low-key, and then when news broke he was very excited,” Grimes said.
“Me and Emory, we’ve been close since Ohio State days. I called him and we talked on the phone I probably would say for about three hours — like long. … Then I broke it to him second, after Jake. Emory was like, ‘Alright, let’s do this thing.’ Then like three hours later he texted me and was like, ‘I’m in.’ I was like, ‘I’m in, too.’ And we’re both here now.”
Grimes has made several plays during his first week of practice, including a 65-yard touchdown reception from Allen last Saturday. The similarities between the offenses at Florida and Ohio State have helped make his transition smoother.
“At the end of the day, I feel like I have a step up on the other players because I’ve played in an offense similar to this. But still just trying to adapt to this offense and get better,” Grimes said. “I love everything about Coach [Dan] Mullen. I love everything about Coach [Billy] Gonzales. I feel like I fit in very well here.”
And his mother is no longer 1,100 miles away. Grimes declined to discuss her situation in detail, but he’s in good spirits and said she’s doing well.
“On the field, I let all that go. And then I deal with that outside of it,” Grimes said. “It’s taken a little toll, but whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
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