Auburn’s J.B. Grimes nominee for National Courage Award

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    J.B. Grimes First Spring Practice on Tuesday, March 18, 2014 in Auburn, AL Lauren Barnard

    By Charles Goldberg
    AuburnTigers.com
    AUBURN, Ala. – J.B. Grimes’
    offensive linemen need only
    to look at their coach for inspiration
    this football season.
    The Auburn assistant
    coach had surgery to remove
    both a cancerous spot on his
    tongue and his lymph nodes
    on a Wednesday, and was on
    the field the following Monday
    for the start of football
    practice in August. Grimes
    was named this Wednesday
    this week’s national nominee
    for the Courage Award by
    the Football Writers Association
    of America. The winner
    will be announced after the
    season.
    Auburn’s linemen know
    how they’d cast their vote.
    “That’s one tough dude,”
    said lineman Braden Smith
    in recommending Grimes for
    the award. “Having surgery,
    then going back out to practice
    with a bunch of staples
    in your neck – that had to be
    incredible pain, but he made
    us feel like it would hurt him
    more to be away from us.”
    Coach Gus Malzahn
    summed it up this way: “J.B. is
    probably the toughest coach
    in college football.”
    Grimes said doctors told
    him he was cancer free. Lineman
    Alex Kozan said Grimes
    put aside his surgery for the
    team.
    “A lot of coaches would
    have hung it up for a week or
    two ? or maybe the season ?
    but he put us first. He always
    puts us first,” Kozan said.
    Lineman Shon Coleman,
    a leukemia survivor, won
    the award last season. This
    season, he wanted to know if
    his coach was eligible.
    Coleman was one of the
    driving forces to nominate Grimes.
    “That’s a very tough guy
    with some big energy,” Coleman
    said. “Nothing can stop
    him from being a part of our
    team and moving us forward.
    He believes in us that
    much. If one of us gets hurt,
    we’re going to look over and
    see what he went through,
    and he’s been through a lot.
    That respect for him has
    brought us closer. We want
    to play great to show him
    what he has done for us
    means.”
    “His example is powerful,”
    said lineman Jordan
    Diamond.
    Grimes was told not to
    raise his voice during the
    early stages of fall practice.
    He followed that command
    for a few minutes.
    Soon, he was back barking
    instructions, teaching
    his players the finer points
    of the game.
    “He coaches us like he
    didn’t have anything more
    important in the world,”
    said center Xavier Dampeer.
    “I don’t know how he does
    it with the pain he had to
    fight. He inspires me – if my
    coach can come back day
    after day and give it his best,
    then I can push through
    drills or cramping or pretty
    much anything that comes
    my way.”
    Lineman Devonte Danzey
    said Grimes’ quick return
    from surgery “might be one
    of the most courageous
    things I’ve ever seen in my
    life. It gives us something to
    fight for — to show him that
    we really appreciate him
    every day.”
    “Some days,” said Mike
    Horton, “maybe we don’t
    want to be practicing or
    working, but you wouldn’t
    dare do anything less than
    your best. We work hard
    because we work hard for
    him. He’s a coach you want
    to play for.”
    The Courage Award,
    which has been presented
    by the Football Writers Association
    of America since
    2002, considers “courage
    on or off the field, including
    overcoming an injury
    or physical handicap, preventing
    a disaster or living
    through hardship.”
    This season’s winner will
    be honored at the Orange
    Bowl.
    Grimes is married to Jennifer
    (Graves) Grimes, a 1977
    Nashville High School graduate
    and he is the son-in-law
    of the late Louis “Swampy”
    Graves and Wilton Graves
    of Nashville.
    – Charles Goldberg is a Senior
    Writer at AuburnTigers.
    com.