Junior wideout Hezekiah Grimsley is no stranger to the starting lineup at Virginia Tech. However, at the beginning of his third season, he is poised to make his biggest impact yet for the Hokies.
When Grimsley first arrived on campus in 2017, he was forced into the fire a little sooner than the coaches would have liked. As CJ Carroll struggled with injuries, it was Grimsley and Sean Savoy, two true freshmen, sharing most of the time at slot receiver.
Last season, Grimsley began to emerge as not only a legitimate threat, but also the top guy in the slot.
He finished the year with 31 receptions
for 382 yards including a 46 yard touchdown grab against Marshall highlighted his season. Additionally, Grimsley was utilized some in the running game with 12 carries for 75 yards including a touchdown.
Overall, it became clear as the season progressed that Grimsley was becoming more comfortable with his role.
After another full offseason as a starting slot receiver, Grimsley seems ultimately ready to build on those stats and become even more of a factor in 2019.
"Several years ago, we talked about how it was unfortunate that [Grimsley] had to get moved around because we were so paper thin at the time," said Justin Fuente. "Now, he's ready for those challenges."
Grimsley has also been working on his blocking abilities, a skill that is highly important for wide receivers. Even though he is not the strongest player on the field, he is capable of laying down huge hits. One such instance is this block
on Erick Kumah's TD reception against Florida State last season.
Offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen also spoke highly of Grimsley's work ethic in Thursday's press conference.
"Nobody works harder than Hez," said Cornelsen. "He can run for days, and he does. He's been doing it since he showed up."
Fuente even mentioned that Grimsley is capable of splitting out wide at times rather than strictly playing in the slot. He believes that versatility will only add to the impact that Grimsley can make.
"He's broadened his capabilities, in terms of positionally," Fuente said.
Cornelsen also talked about Grimsley's ability to make an impact in areas other than the slot.
"This fall camp has been about him learning the 'Z' position also, and giving him the versatility to move around and give us some added depth," said Cornelsen.
Yet another area where Grimsley is pushing for playing time is in the punt return game. Fuente has routinely mentioned Grimsley and Tayvion Robinson as the two most likely punt returners for the Hokies.
While he has struggled to become comfortable fielding punts in the past, Fuente says Grimsley's consistency during each and every rep on special teams has led to his improvement.
"It's not always easy to treat every rep like it's a game," said Fuente. "That's a difficult mental task. [Grimsley] has done a really good job of trying to treat every rep as if it is live action."
Grimsley himself seems a lot more comfortable fielding punts than he was just a year ago. Instead of being hesitant as he was at times last season, he is facing the challenge head on.
"He's worked hard at it," Fuente said. "He's gone and attacked it like it's something he really, really wants."
No matter where he is on the field, Fuente is confident in the product that Grimsley will give him. Consistency and reliability are two qualities that Fuente harps on in his players, and Grimsley exudes just that.
"He's our steady guy," said Fuente. "He's just a great worker, great attitude, and continues to get better."
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
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