Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009 | 1:23 p.m.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound senior tight end will play in the Under Armour All-American game Saturday in Orlando, Fla., and he's quickly realizing that being one of the elite college prospects has its privileges.
The USC commit arrived in Florida on Tuesday for the three days of practices leading up the game and was greeted with a welcome package of clothing and equipment from Under Armour, the apparel company sponsoring the event.
The package was highlighted by a pair of cleats, sweats and a mouth guard fitted specifically for Grimble.
"It was basically every piece of equipment you could think of," Grimble said.
Grimble, the nation's top ranked tight end by recruiting Web site Rivals.com, will receive similar treatment next year at the University of Southern California. Just like Gorman, USC is a Nike school.
There is no need to tell the 17-year-old how fortunate he is.
Grimble, like most teenagers, dreamed of suiting up each Saturday on the college gridiron. He remembers not so long ago spending hours playing NCAA football video games and creating himself on the game.
Then, as he continued to progress with Gorman and shined at various recruiting combines, the fantasy of the video game started to become a reality.
He received scholarship offers from the likes of Florida and Oklahoma before picking USC in April. He followed by leading Gorman to an undefeated record this fall and the program's second state title in three years.
Yes, it's been a dream come true.
"It's pretty nice. You're right, I'm one of the fortunate ones," Grimble said.
Grimble, who caught 35 passes for 705 yards and nine touchdowns in 2009, has earned his claim as the nation's best high school tight end.
First-year coach Tony Sanchez was impressed with Grimble from the beginning when he was hired as Gorman's coach last spring. Grimble had no problems learning Sanchez's passing schemes and thrived in the balanced attack.
"He's almost the perfect tight end. It's hard to find a flaw," Sanchez said. "He was able to pick-up (the offense) quickly because he's a real sharp kid."
He's also made a good impression on the scouts associated with the Under Armour game.
"Grimble brings a very nice combination of size and ability," said JC Shurburtt, of Scouts Inc, a recruiting service that is part of the ESPN brand.
"With good hands and a large catch radius, he has the tools to be a weapon in the passing game. Although he can help move the chains and put points on the board as a receiving target, he can also help in the run game as he is a good in-line blocker."
It only took Grimble one play during Wednesday's initial practice to show people outside of Las Vegas that he's the real deal.
"Grimble caught a pass in the flat and got up field in a hurry. But the thing that stood out about the play was he actually sought out contact," ESPN reported on its practice blog. "Tight ends have to be both physical and fluid. From the looks of things today, Grimble has both."
The game will feature 90 top prospects, including three others who have committed to USC, and will be televised by ESPN.
"I'm definitely going to use this to get ready for (USC) and competing against better athletes," Grimble said. "I'm also going to show we have good football in Vegas. We get a little overlooked some times."
Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected].