Tony Grimes gets a second chance

Defensive back Tony Grimes was among the top players in Florida coming out of Hollywood Hills High School in the Class of 2010.

He started three years at Hollywood Hills, and was rated a four-star prospect and the 16th-best cornerback in the nation by ESPN.

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound prospect had offers from schools all over the country, and eventually chose Ole Miss over Michigan and Maryland. Grimes played in nine games as a true freshman and received a start against Kentucky.

However, he was suspended for a violation of team rules near the end of the 2010 season and was dismissed from the team after just one semester on campus.

"Some things happened, and they thought it was best for me to move on," Grimes said. "I went to Hutchinson [Kan.] junior college for a semester, but there wasn't a connection between me and the coaches there."

So Grimes left Kansas without a place to go. However, Arizona Western College (Yuma, Ariz.) inquired about him, and he soon accepted a scholarship to the school.

Now back on the field for the first time in a year, Grimes doesn't look like he has lost a step. Through three games with the top-five NJCAA program, Grimes has 15 tackles, three pass breakups and a sack.

"I love it out here on the West Coast," Grimes said. "It's nice out here, and I'm happy to be on the field again. I'm getting a second chance to prove myself to everyone and I'm going to make this count."

Grimes will graduate in May and have two years of eligibility remaining. He promises he'll be a different man when he gets back into major college football.

"It took me to lose everything to realize what I had, what I earned and what I have to offer," Grimes said. "Now starting from the bottom and trying to get back to the top, there's no turning around. I made a promise to myself to be a better player on the field and better man off the field."

Grimes is preparing for what is expected to be a heavy recruiting push for him. He didn't want to disclose which schools have inquired, but he expects to have several major offers in the near future.

"At this point, I am letting the process handle itself," Grimes said. "I'm going to see what happens but I'm going to be open to several opportunities.

"I think I will have some good offers, but it's going to depend on me."

On the field, Grimes says he's a much better player than he was at Ole Miss but credits his experience there with helping him better understand the game.

"I feel like I'm prepared for a lot that I'm doing this season, and that came from being in a strong program," Grimes said. "My confidence level is high, and I'm playing well. I know things are just going to get better."

Navarro-Blinn could be game of the year

When the nation's top two junior colleges meet this weekend, expect the game to go a long way toward determining the NJCAA national champion.

Navarro (Texas) and Blinn (Texas) have decided the past two national titles in junior college football. Blinn won in 2009 behind quarterback Cam Newton, who then won the 2010 BCS title with Auburn.

Now, on offense, Blinn features running back Marion Grice, who recently picked up an offer from Purdue. Defensively, Blinn has received strong efforts from linebacker Eddie Porter and defensive end Ishmail Hayes.

Porter, starting at middle linebacker for Blinn, has 30 tackles and a sack this season. He has offers from Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Kansas State, California and Iowa State. Porter visited Iowa State earlier in the month and came away impressed.

"The game day atmosphere there is incredible," Porter said. "It got me so excited and just ready to start my next step of football. All the fans and the way they responded to the team. I really can't describe how much fun it was."

The 6-1, 235-pound recruit is just as excited when talking about the challenge he will face this weekend.

"Navarro is our big rival, and the games have just been real tough matchups," Porter said. "It's a great opportunity for me to prove myself to everyone."

Hayes, a 6-6, 245-pounder, has been a monster off the edge with three sacks and a forced fumble. He has offers from Ohio, Purdue, Iowa State and Memphis with several more major programs showing interest.

Porter and Hayes will put a lot of pressure on Navarro's talented offensive line, which is led by 6-4, 285-pound center Delmar Taylor. The former standout from Miami Beach High School is the key player up front, supporting an explosive offense that has averaged more than 420 yards per game.

"They are a physical team, and it's going to be a tough challenge for sure," Taylor said. "But that's what I look for, and this is a good chance to gauge how good I am right now."

Taylor, who committed to Miami before being placed at Navarro, recently committed to Florida International.

"I'm really excited to be going back home to play for FIU," Taylor said. "I love what coach [Mario] Cristobal is doing there and I can't wait to be part of it."

Former junior college assistant coach Timmi Norling was part of these games at one time and said scouts from major college programs will all be requesting film of this one.

"You're talking about the two programs that have won the last two national titles in juco and produced the most recent Heisman Trophy winner," Norling said. "You'll see several guys on this field that will be playing big-time ball next year.

"Some were highly touted out of high school, and others left the programs they were at and came here to restart the recruiting process. Either way the guys in this game will be ready to step in and contribute at major programs in 2012."


• East Mississippi defensive tackle Damien Jacobs was recently offered by Mississippi State. Jacobs committed to Florida State out of high school in the Class of 2010 but did not qualify. He committed to Tennessee over the summer but recently took a visit to Texas A&M.

• Iowa Western tight end Ryan Hubbell and Pierce College (Los Angeles) defensive back Cody Berry were both recently offered by Florida International.

Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at coreyespn@gmail.com.