COLLEGE STATION – The college career of former Brownwood Lion Lee Grimes will reach its conclusion on Monday when the Texas A&M Aggies (6-6) clash with the Georgia Bulldogs (7-5) in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.
The bowl appearance for the Aggies is the ideal ending for Grimes – a two-year letterman and two-year starter for Texas A&M at right tackle, who earned second-team all Big 12 honors this year.
“Last year we were sitting at home and I was in a shoulder sling just after having surgery,” Grimes said. “We were watching teams we could have beat or should have beat, but we didn’t. It was really depressing. This year it was very important for me to make a bowl game.”
Along with his Big 12 accolade, Grimes also was recently honored by being voted to the University Interscholastic League’s All-Century Football Team as a third-team offensive lineman.
Also chosen as UIL All-Century offensive linemen were first-teamers Leonard Davis (Wortham), Forrest Gregg (Sulphur Springs), E.J. Holub (Lubbock), Jerry Sisemore (Plainview) and Gene Upshaw (Robstown); second-teamers Justin Blalock (Plano East), Blake Brockermeyer (Fort Worth Arlington Heights), Doug Dawson (Houston Memorial), Alan Faneca (Lamar Consolidated) and Seth McKinney (Austin Westlake); and fellow third-teamers Trey Allen (South Grand Prairie), Mike Baab (Euless Trinity), Matt McCall (Lufkin) and Dan Neil (Houston Cypress Creek).
“It’s kind of surreal and it really hasn’t hit me,” said Grimes, who also won a UIL Class 4A boys shot put state championship his senior year at Brownwood. “When my mom first told me I made it, I texted my uncle and two cousins that played and kind of bragged about it because their names weren’t on there. But it’s pretty special to be one of the top 15 that people felt came through the state of Texas with all the players that have come out. I’m very honored to be selected and hope I have represented it well.”
The Aggies’ path to Shreveport was filled with peaks and valleys, which Grimes anticipated with such a large number of freshmen contributing for second-year Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman.
“Coming into the year we pretty much knew it would be an up and down season, but hopefully we’ll go out 7-6 after we beat Georgia,” Grimes said. “We played 19 freshmen throughout the year, and being a senior and knowing that, I came in prepared. The freshmen weren’t as mature and hadn’t seen everything, they’d been in high school. But the senior and junior classes took them under their wing and started teaching them right when they got here in the summer. The freshmen came in and adapted well.”
Among the highlights of his senior season, Grimes pointed to the Texas Tech, Iowa State and Texas games as his fondest memories. The Aggies won three of their last six games after bottoming out with a 62-14 loss at Kansas State, which was the final contest in a season-worst three-game losing skid for A&M.
“We went to K-State and got our butts kick, but then we turned around the next week and came back against Tech and beat them at their place. That’s something that hasn’t been since ’93, so that’s pretty special,” Grimes said. “We also beat Iowa State right after they beat Nebraska. They came in here real high and we clobbered them. And the way we played against Texas, no one knew who would win until the last five minutes of the game.”
The Aggies averaged 34 points and 465 yards of total offense –275 yards passing and 190 yards rushing per game – during the regular season, but Grimes expects the Georgia defense to provide a stellar challenge for the A&M offensive front on Monday.
“Georgia has a top 30 defense, but we know they’ve lost some of their defensive coaches and are basically being led by some graduate assistants and the head coach,” Grimes said. “Their front seven is pretty stout, and they rotate a lot of people in on the defensive line. They’re real big in the middle and have SEC speed at defensive end. They’ve also got three good linebackers and they can fly, so it will be a good test for us.”
While Grimes certainly wants to conclude his senior campaign with a winning record – which a victory over Georgia would ensure – the future for the Brownwood High graduate after Monday’s game is unclear. Grimes could be selected in the NFL Draft this April or sign a free agent contract, but neither option is guaranteed.
“To be quite honest I’m very confused right now. I don’t know what to do,” said Grimes of his football future. “I’m going to start training, but I don’t know where or with who. If I get invited to the combine, which as far as I know I’m on the bubble, I would go there after training. Basically I’m going to spend next semester training and getting ready for the combine and pro day.”
If Monday marks the end of Grimes’ playing days, he is prepared to move on while staying close to his football roots at the same time.
“I’m looking for a coaching job,” Grimes said. “I’m going to try and coach high school and get emergency certification as I coach my first year. I’m looking for a job if anybody wants to call me.”
The Independence Bowl will be broadcast at 4 p.m. Monday on ESPN2.