GAINESVILLE — Receiver Trevon Grimes’ career at Florida couldn’t have started much better.
The Ohio State transfer wasn’t even touched on his first catch, which he took 34 yards for the Gators’ first touchdown of the season in the blowout of Charleston Southern. It looked like a sign of big plays to come for the former four-star recruit from Fort Lauderdale powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas.
But that promise never materialized. He scored only one touchdown in the rest of the season.
Grimes never worried.
“I knew my time would come,” Grimes said.
If Saturday was any indication, it looks like his time is finally here.
Grimes’ 195 receiving yards broke UF’s spring game record; two of his four catches went for touchdowns, and a third took him down to the 1.
“He went crazy,” receiver Freddie Swain said. “You can tell that during spring practice he finally understands what he is doing and why he is doing it. It shows that he has tremendous ability to be a great athlete.”
His ability wasn’t in question when he was looking to leave Ohio State to get closer to home after the 2017 season.
Receivers who are 6-foot-5 and state champion hurdlers don’t come around very often. That’s why coach Dan Mullen pursued Grimes for an immediate injection of talent at a position group that needed more immediate contributors.
“To have that opportunity to get him, that was big for us,” Mullen said.
It just didn’t show up immediately in the stats; Grimes finished his sophomore year third on the team with 26 catches for 364 yards.
Grimes didn’t put up massive numbers in part because of how Mullen runs his offense. Rather than feed the ball to one receiver, his quarterbacks spread it around to many. Mullen has never had a 1,000-yard receiver as a head coach or assistant (although Utah’s Paris Warren topped that mark in 2004, when Mullen was the Utes’ quarterbacks coach).
Grimes was also vying for catches in one of the most talented receiving corps UF has had since the Tim Tebow era. Five of the Gators’ other top targets are also former blue-chip recruits; Kadarius Toney isn’t, but he has the potential to be one of the most electric players in the SEC.
But Grimes also might not have been ready for a big first season at UF. Physically, he dropped too many passes last spring. Mentally, he was adjusting to a new coaching staff and a new system, plus everything else that comes with transferring to a new school.
“I hold myself to a high expectation, so I really just had to get off a couple of mental barriers,” Grimes said.
Those transitional barriers started to disappear toward the end of the season. Grimes had five catches for 118 yards and a touchdown in the rout at Florida State.
That breakout game set him up for the strong spring that culminated with his record-setting performance over the weekend. Now the Gators hope what he built this spring shows up this fall.
“He’s always had the ability,” receiver Van Jefferson said. “Now he’s just bringing it out.”
Contact Matt Baker at [email protected]. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.