Nurse's son Trevon Grimes helps lead Gators during COVID-19 pandemic on and off the field

Graham Hall
Special to The Sun

When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the United States, altering American lives, Florida wide receiver Trevon Grimes didn’t have to look far to understand the risks the virus posed. 

Grimes’ mother, Leah Grimes, is a critical care nurse in South Florida, and hearing as his mother took precaution after precaution and wore piece after piece of protective gear — it didn’t necessarily match up with what was happening around him. 

Florida receiver Trevon Grimes (8) celebrates a touchdown last Saturday against Ole Miss at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss.

“Definitely, that was a factor. I have a little brother at home, I have a mom at home who's very well tied into the health organization,” Grimes said, “so that was a little factor that played a role in it.”

Testing was expensive initially, and the turn-around time sometimes took several weeks early in the pandemic, leading many to question whether or not athletics was even viable if the virus continued to run rampant. 

The prospect of playing football under those conditions, with limited testing available and no guarantee a test result could be returned prior to game day, had Grimes considering opting out of the 2020 season after making the difficult decision to return to Gainesville rather than enter the NFL draft. 

“Ultimately, I made my decision: I wanted to play football. I wanted to come back and finish this thing out with my brothers. I know there will be risks, but like I said, I made the decision to come back my senior season for a reason, and I wanted to finish it out,” he said. “So therefore, I knew there wasn't going to be no leaving, and whatever the road took, that's what I was going to do and I wanted to just finish with my brothers."

UFHealth: High medical expectations

Grimes was still hoping the risks would be minimized, however; with UFHealth facilities in abundance around campus, and with Florida’s status as one of the top public universities in the country, internal and external expectations are high around the university when it comes to UF’s handling of the virus. 

As preseason camp commenced, Grimes was still apprehensive, and wanted to make sure his message was taken seriously. 

So he, along with fellow wide receivers Jacob Copeland and Kadarius Toney, in addition to defensive lineman Zachary Carter, chose to sit out during the first week of camp — a selfish decision in the eyes of some, perhaps, yet it was ironically enough a selfless one, explains Grimes. 

“Just the protocols put in place (needed to change). I was in talks with a lot of the people in our organization with testing and all that stuff, and once the testing results came back faster and we were tested more times every week, a lot of the guys felt more comfortable and me and the other two players — the receivers in our group — felt a lot more comfortable,” Grimes said. “Once that was put in place, we were back the next day and out there practicing."

Many expected Grimes to take a leap forward entering what more than likely will be his final season of collegiate action, and those predictions received some early validation when Grimes hauled in Florida’s second touchdown of the season, a 22-yard grab, to put UF up 14-7 early in the team’s season-opening win at Ole Miss. 

Trevon Grimes reactions during the Florida Gators' game action against the Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday, September 26, 2020 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss.

But leadership isn’t always defined by statistics on the field, nor is it determined by voices outside of the program. Grimes knew the touchdown catches would come in 2020 — when the pandemic struck, he showed he could lead by example away from the field as well. 

“Being a leader of the receiver group, I felt like it was my duty to make sure that we were in the best situation, being put in the best situation. So, as a leader of the group, I felt like I wanted to make sure the protocols and everything were set up correctly for me to go back out there, due to the fact that I didn't want to go out there in a situation where the unknown was unknown,” Grimes said. “So, once the protocols were put in place and everything was put in order, me and the other two that sat out, we were back the next day and got rockin' and rollin' and now we have a game under our belt and we're excited about it."

How to Watch Saturday

Who: South Carolina (0-1) vs. No. 3 Florida (1-0)

When: Noon

Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

TV: ESPN

Radio: 103.7-FM, 98.1-FM, AM-850