BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech wide receiver Hezekiah Grimsley just wanted to make the catch.
Grimsley, who practices one-handed grabs in practice, wasn’t focused on style points when he saw a pass from Ryan Willis sailing over his head in the end zone. Grimsley just reacted — he tipped the ball to himself with one hand — and found a way to bring the ball in as he was falling to the ground in the second quarter of Tech's 31-17 win over Old Dominion.
“Acrobatic, fantastic,” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said of the 9-yard touchdown.
It was good enough to earn runner-up honors Saturday night on SportsCenter’s top 10 highlights.
“At this level, obviously we got this far because we know how to catch with two hands,” Grimsley said after the game. “So, I like to work on something that I really have to work on (one-handed catches)... to make that play, it means a lot to me.”
While Willis threw the ball high on the play, Grimsley credited his quarterback for making the right read on the play.
“The DB played it over the top so me and Ryan was on the same page,” Grimsley said. “...It was just a matter of looking the ball in and I wasn’t planning on making a one-hand catch. I just slapped the ball in the air and it fell where fell.”
The touchdown is Grimsley’s second big offensive play in as many weeks. Grimsley scored a 55-yard touchdown from Willis against Boston College in the season opener. The difficult level of that catch was much lower with Grimsley bursting past the entire secondary.
“I’m really proud of Hezzy,” Willis said. “He’s really grown a lot and he’s really stepping up into a big role for our team. And he just continues to make plays. He had a big catch last week and he did this week too. He’s going to take the next step and grow. We expect a lot out of him and I think he’s up to it.”
But Grimsley also had a major miscue in the loss with a fumble on a punt return. Fuente pulled Damon Hazelton and C.J. Carroll after turnovers last year on special teams, but he took a different approach with Grimsley, who remains the only player to return punts in the Hokies first two games.
“He takes his performance very seriously and he’s not a pouter, he’s not a guy that let’s you know that he’s upset,” Fuente said. “He’s just a guy that pulls himself up and shows up and works hard.”
Grimsley has six catches for a team-high 143 yards (an impressive 23.8 yards per catch) with two touchdowns this season. All his receptions have gone for a first down or touchdown.
As a sophomore last year, he had 31 catches for 382 yards with one touchdown. He’s already matched his total of catches (two) of 25 yards or more from 2018.
“I’m so happy for him.,” Fuente said. “Like, you talk about a guy that we’re all pulling for, because of how he works and the things that he’s been through. When you see guys have success that we see everyday behind the scenes work so hard and we’ve been in their living room, it’s really cool to have. Those are special moments — not only that it was a fantastic catch — but to see those guys have success is pretty fulfilling.”