MSU OL Coach J.B. Grimes Produces NFL Players

First-year offensive line coach J.B Grimes can reel off a list names of his former players who now play or played in the NFL.<P> Ranging from Rex Tucker of the Chicago Bears to Seth McKinney and Billy Yates of the Miami Dolphins, Grimes has seen his share of former pupils graduate to the greener pastures of the National Football League.<P> During his days at Virginia Tech, Texas A&M and most recently East Carolina, Grimes owns an impressive resume of NFL prospects that he coached.

In the months leading up to April's NFL Draft, Grime's phone rings at a constant pace.

"I get quite a few calls from the scouts," said Grimes. "And you get to know them over the years and build good relationships. I think one of the things you always want to do is make those guys feel welcome and help them with their job."

But he is also the first to admit he didn't tutor those former college standouts to the NFL. He only put them in the right position.

"I don't put them in the NFL. Their own abilities put them in the NFL," admitted Grimes. "My job is to get them where they are fundamentally and technique-wise ready to play in that league. And hopefully what we put them through, they are ready from a physical standpoint to play in that league."

And while some current Bulldogs may be a few years away, Grimes strongly believes he may have some future professional linemen in his current group in Starkville.

"Right now, I think we have some guys on the offensive line that will get some NFL opportunities," said Grimes. "And I believe that."

Following practice late last week, Grimes touched on the guys he's counting on this fall.

"We really believe that David Stewart can be a premier player," said Grimes. "He has to get better fundamentally but he brings all the intangibles to the table. He's a big, strong guy but more than that, he's a tough guy. Day in and day out, he's a very consistent guy.

"Richard Burch is an underclassmen but a very talented guy. He's got to get stronger in the weight room but I think our strength coach (Jim Nowell) will make a huge difference in his career. Johnny Wadley, who's been hampered by injuries, will get a lot of looks, if healthy. He's a big man that can really move his body. Will Rogers is a senior that hasn't gotten many snaps because of injuries."

In February, the Bulldogs inked just three offensive linemen. Grimes spoke highly of his true freshmen Roland Terry, Jeffrey Farr and Dio Herrera but was quick to point out the challenging transition from high school to college.

"These freshman offensive linemen we recruited are redshirt candidates," said Grimes. "And that's what they need to be. We coach fifth-year seniors a whole lot better that we do first-year freshmen, obviously."

Along with the maroon and white faithful, Grimes quickly noticed a glaring problem when he arrived on campus. He needed his pupils to shed some unwanted pounds, yet remaining bulky enough to take the weekly pounding of the Southeastern Conference.

"I like them big and I think everybody does," said Grimes. "But there's a difference between big and fat. We think there were a lot of guys on this team that were carrying around a lot of excess weight. And all that weight around your stomach isn't doing any good. So we prefer a guy come in underweight than overweight because it's so difficult to get the weight off.

"I think small is too big of a word. You want big and agile offensive linemen. But in this offense, we need guys that can run, too. There are exceptions to the rule and you can find an exceptional, 340-pound guy that's a great player coming out of high school. That's an exception because rarely do you find a guy that big at the age of 17 able to carry that weight around."

Grimes credited Newell's impact since arriving in the spring.

"First of all, I think we've got good kids," noted Grimes. "We've got good kids that want to succeed. I really like this bunch and it's a good bunch that I think a lot of them. My first impression was they were too heavy. You could just look at them and tell that. When Coach Nowell came in, that was the primary focus with the offensive line.

"And we've done a pretty good job of that. You have some that need to lose 10 or 15 here and there but we had some that needed to shed about 50 or so."

And when the weight drops off, so do the percentages of the health risks. At any level of football, offensive success always starts up front as everybody knows all too well.

Heading into the season opener, Grimes is already keeping his fingers crossed.

"Every good football team I've been associated with, you generally started the same five guys every week," said Grimes. "There's a consistency down there that has to take place to keep the continuity going. When you're playing musical chairs on the offensive line, it really makes it difficult to keep those guys going.

"Hopefully the injury bug will stay away from us this year. If we can keep our guys on the field, this will be a pretty good group."

During the past three seasons, the line's inconsistent play (largely due to inexperience and injuries) has translated into a lack of production from the offense.

But Grimes has been nothing but pleased with the work ethic from this year's crop.

"I can't comment on the past three years," said Grimes. "All I can talk about is the attitude they have right now and the attitude they've shown us since we've been here. These young men are doing exactly what we ask of them. They are on time, showing up for the workouts and giving great efforts. And what more can you ask as a coach?"


Paul Jones is a writer for the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website. Paul, also a sports writer for the Columbus Commercial Dispatch, can be reached by email at pjones@cdispatch.com.

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