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Can Grimes measure up?

Bear River grade looks to make it in the NFL after defying odds at Nevada
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Kevin Grimes is facing some long odds, working to overcome his shortcomings and having to prove himself to people all over again. It’s just the way he likes it. Grimes arrived in Reno less than four years ago from Bear River High and the walk-on eventually convinced the coaching staff at the University of Nevada that he could be a playmaker on the football field. He’s now hoping an NFL squad will give him a shot to prove himself at the highest level. The NFL Draft is coming up April 28 and Grimes believes his dream of playing on Sundays isn’t that far-fetched. “The last two months, last two weeks, it’s been almost surreal,” said Grimes, who impressed a throng of NFL scouts at Nevada’s Pro Day last month. “I can equate it to before I came to college. It’s all happening right now.” One year ago, Grimes was nowhere near the NFL’s radar. But a stellar senior season and an impressive workout for scouts — most of whom were in Reno to check out Nevada quarterback Collin Kaepernick — put his childhood dream within reach. “He’s got a legitimate shot to move onto the next level,” said Andy Bugh, Nevada’s defensive coordinator. “I really believe if someone were to give him a shot, that he’d have a chance to make the team. His love for the game and his consistency with what he does are at the professional level.” Grimes made a believer out of Bugh after the coach arrived in Reno last year. Grimes approached him and told him about his mission to play in the NFL. Bugh laid out a plan for the linebacker. “He was very real with me and told me, ‘The scouts want to see what you do against the big boys,’” Grimes said. “He told me I need to earn a starting job and I had to have great games at Cal and Boise State because those are the only games they’re going to look at. I marked Cal on my calendar and God blessed me and I had a great game. I had another good game at Boise State and then arguably my best game at the Fight Hunger Bowl.” Grimes and the Wolf Pack beat Boston College 20-13 in their bowl game on Jan. 9. Grimes’ play was key as Nevada held B.C. to just 185 yards of total offense. The former Bruin led his team with eight total tackles. “That was big because Boston College had some of the best linemen in the country,” Grimes said. While Grimes amped up his play on the field, he was also hard at work on his studies. He graduated with a Business Finance degree in December, allowing him to focus extra time this spring on training. He landed an internship with Wells Fargo after graduation. Grimes works until 3 p.m. on weekdays, then heads to the gym to hit the weights. The routine, along with an improved diet, has worked wonders. He’s still undersized for an NFL linebacker, but he’s up to 225 pounds after gaining more than 20 pounds since the end of football season. “I’m undersized, but I have no problem,” Grimes said. “I’ve learned to play at my size. There are a ton of guys out there who are smaller. I have good lateral movement and I use my hands well. I don’t try to mess with most linemen. I just go around them. If you make the plays, that’s all coaches care about.” At Nevada’s Pro Day, Grimes ran a 4.63-second 40-yard dash, had a 31 1/2 –inch vertical leap and bench-pressed 225 pounds 22 times. He doesn’t have the eye-popping numbers of teammate Dontay Moch, a pass-rush specialist who is projected to be selected in the second round of the draft. But in the right four-linebacker set, Grimes believes he can play with anyone. There are doubters, but that’s nothing new for Grimes. Even after rushing for a state-best 39 touchdowns and 1,965 yards as a senior at Bear River, few Division I schools took notice. Grimes opted to walk on at Nevada, where he started his career as a defensive back before settling in at linebacker for his senior year. If his name isn’t called during the NFL Draft, Grimes will look to work his way up as a free agent. “I came to Nevada and I was mad and I came to take someone’s job,” Grimes said. “There’s an advantage to (being a walk-on.) That was the path God laid for me and I’m happy for the way it’s turned out. Now I know how to work through that.”