comscore Grimes earns his way back | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Grimes earns his way back

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    Tony Grimes will return to the starting lineup Saturday against New Mexico.

Red, black and charcoal ink cover the arms, chest, back and neck of Hawaii football player Tony Grimes.

But they could not mask the self-disappointment that the self-appointed shutdown corner felt after losing a starting job in the first half of the Warriors’ first game this season.

Grimes did not pout or go into a funk. Instead, he bit his mouthpiece and kept working, and now it appears he has regained his cornerback’s job entering Saturday’s game against New Mexico.

"We thought we were going to lose him (emotionally)," UH coach Norm Chow said of Grimes’ demotion. "We didn’t. He kept working hard. He deserves a chance."

Comebacks are not original for Grimes, who was a four-star prospect as a Hollywood Hills (Fla.) senior. rated Grimes as the 16th-best cornerback in the country.

He played in three games for Mississippi as a freshman in 2010, but was eventually dismissed for breaking team rules. He played at Arizona Western in 2011. In May, he pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.

Over the summer, he accepted a scholarship from the Warriors.

Grimes started in the opener against Southern California. But on the first play from scrimmage, Marqise Lee caught a short pass, juked Grimes and raced 75 yards for a touchdown. Later, Grimes was penalized twice for pass interference, leading to his exile to the sidelines.

Freshman Ne’Quan Phillips finished the game at corner, then started the next three games. Free safety John Hardy-Tuliau opened at corner against San Diego State last Saturday.

Grimes was reduced to the role of spelling tired players. He also helped offer observations to Phillips.

"Whoever’s in, I love ’em like my brother, and I’m going to support ’em," Grimes said. "Personally, I want everybody to succeed. If it’s not me, I want my teammate, my brother, to succeed."

In the meantime, Grimes turned to his playbook and his faith.

"The one thing the game of football has taught me is in order to overcome adversity, you have to stay with a positive attitude," Grimes said. "Without a positive attitude, you’ll never overcome it. I just stayed positive the whole time, kept up with my prayers, asking God to help me stay positive."

He also decided to stick to the script.

"There were a lot of things I wasn’t doing the coaches’ way," Grimes said. "I was doing things, basically, my way. That’s not going to cut it at this level. In order to be on the field, you have to do everything the coaches’ way. I had to buy back into that, and start to do everything I was coached."

Chow said Grimes played well as a replacement for Hardy-Tuliau, who left the SDSU game after falling awkwardly while defending a pass into the end zone. Chow said Grimes has been solid in practices.

"He deserves a shot," Chow said. "We’re giving him a shot."

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