Tony Grimes, a five-star cornerback and the No. 7 recruit in the country, announced his commitment to North Carolina on Tuesday.
The Virginia Beach native chose the Tar Heels over Georgia, Ohio State and Texas A&M — the other three programs on his final list — to become UNC’s second-highest ranked all-time recruit, behind only class of 2007 defensive tackle Marvin Austin.
With his decision, the Tar Heels’ 2021 recruiting class is now ranked No. 3 nationally. Grimes became the first five-star recruit in North Carolina’s 2021 recruiting class, adding to a list that already included 11 four-star prospects heading to Chapel Hill next fall.
UNC has now gained commitments from 12 defensive recruits with at least four stars beside their names in the 2020 and 2021 recruiting cycles.
In the first two years of head coach Mack Brown’s new tenure at UNC, he and his staff have been on a recruiting tear. The Tar Heels brought in the 19th best 2020 class — highlighted by elite defensive pieces such as Desmond Evans and Myles Murphy — and the current class is on pace to place in the top 10 nationally. If North Carolina’s 2021 haul does finish in the top 10, it would be for the first time since 2007, when the Tar Heels' class ranked No. 10.
Grimes — the consensus No. 1 defensive back in the nation — finished 2019 on Virginia’s 5A All-State first team after helping Princess Anne High School to an 8-3 record and a state playoff 4-seed in his junior season.
The cornerback is a two-sport athlete at Princess Anne, with 6.64 and 22.24 personal records in the 55m and 200m dashes, respectively.
His 247Sports scouting report describes him as a “long strider who can cover on long crossing routes and deep throws” and a “good tackler and asset in run defense.” The report also says he has the potential to be a first round NFL draft pick.
Grimes will join a North Carolina secondary that tied for second in the ACC with 14 interceptions in 2019, helping anchor a much-improved defense under the leadership of cornerbacks coach and former All-American Dré Bly.
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