Beating the odds? Cody Grimm has done that countless times.
Simply being a seventh-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in last April's draft is yet another testament to his resilience. Though he has a ways to go before donning a game uniform, getting to this point is a feat in itself.
What Grimm can't seem to overcome, though, are his measurables and his last name -- and the perceptions both create.
At 6-foot-1, 203 pounds Grimm is better suited to play safety in the NFL than outside linebacker, his position at Virginia Tech. He also is the son of 2010 Hall of Fame inductee Russ Grimm, a former guard with the Washington Redskins who is now an assistant head coach with the Arizona Cardinals.
For most of his football life, Cody Grimm has been told he's too slow, too small, too this, and too that. Rarely was he told he was too good -- or even good enough, for that matter. Even now, when he lines up in the Buccaneers' secondary, he doesn't look like an NFL player, in part, because he has the face of a 15-year old.
More tormenting, though, is being the son of a well-known NFL figure, which has been both his blessing and his curse. His father's stature has opened doors, but when Cody has done well or positioned himself for success, he's heard more than enough whispers that it's because of his pedigree.
"I definitely have had people along the way that said, 'He's only there because of his dad,' " Grimm said. "You're always going to have doubters and people who hate on you in life, and you've just got to look past it."
Grimm's parents have been divorced for years. His father embarked on a NFL coaching career in Pittsburgh and Arizona while Cody was raised outside of Washington, D.C., in Northern Virginia. Cody and Russ have a tight relationship, but Cody has been walking on his own for quite some time.
Cody said he was too young to remember his dad as a player and that his favorite Redskins player was running back/returner Brian Mitchell, because Mitchell gave him a ton of candy during a Christmas party hosted by the team.
Russ Grimm passed along a wealth of football knowledge. The long hours his dad was away from home showed Cody the type of work ethic needed to succeed in the NFL. Cody took what he learned and ran with it.
Cody's last name certainly didn't mean much to recruiters out of high school. Had his name carried as much clout as people think, Cody would have been offered more than one scholarship. And that one scholarship offer came from Football Championship Subdivision school (formerly Division I-AA) William & Mary.
Grimm passed on the free ride and walked on at Virginia Tech, where he could go to school with his brother, Chad. He cut his trail onto the field via special teams, earned a scholarship, and became a starter at outside linebacker -- a starter at 200 pounds, about 20 to 30 pounds lighter than most who play the position.
Grimm not only held his own, he excelled. As a senior, he recorded 94 tackles, four sacks and forced five fumbles.
"I'd say it's mostly my motor," Grimm said of his play-making skills. "I'm trying to keep running -- running the play down. Someone misses a tackle, and I can make a tackle from behind. I'd say my motor is what helps me out forcing fumbles rather than just thinking about it."
Grimm might come off as an over-achiever type, but make no mistake about his athletic ability. He routinely ran high 4.4, 4.5-second 40-yard dashes in pre-draft workouts and had very impressive showings in agility drills. The combination of that, his production, his vinegar and brine tenacity, and his history of out-working others is why Tampa Bay drafted him.
The Buccaneers think Grimm has the skill set to play strong safety, and they've seen nothing during offseason workouts to make them think otherwise.
"You go look at a lot of people, and you evaluate a lot of guys, then once you get a chance to meet the kid, it really comes out in the guy," Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris said. "His character, his background ... of course you know his family, we all know his family. When you look at his tape and how he plays, how tough he plays and how hard he plays, the things he was able to do at Virginia Tech, the things he was able to do out there in the box ...
"He didn't have the deep-field experience, didn't have some of the things we look for in a safety. But you've seen the transition. You've seen the possibility of him doing that. You see the possibility of him coming out here and being a core special teams guy and be able to do some of the things that we've covered around here, and that we have covered here in Tampa for a long time."
Grimm hasn't jumped out during OTAs and minicamps because, after all, these are just practices in shorts and a jersey. Those are workouts when the sleek athletes tend to draw raves -- as so many players like rookie wideouts Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams have this spring.
Grimm is a football player. Football is played in pads. When training camp arrives in late July, that's when we'll see if Grimm can meet yet another challenge.
Morris said Grimm is viewed as a safety first and a special-teams player second. That might be the theory, but Tanard Jackson is an emerging big-time talent at free safety, and the Bucs also signed free-agent Sean Jones to compete with Sabby Piscitelli at strong safety.
The numbers say Grimm has to stand out on special teams.
"If you want to take a few plays off during practice, if you're a vet that's perfectly acceptable," Grimm said. "But in this situation I'm in, I know I've got to be 100 percent every play and do my best. I've got to take care of my body. I can't afford to miss any scrimmages or practices. Just from being a walk-on at Tech I know what that road is like."
Grimm's lineage will come into play again, and put him in a potentially uneasy situation, as he tries to make the final 53. Russ Grimm is scheduled to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 7 -- about a week into Buccaneers training camp. Indications are that Cody would be excused if he wants to attend the ceremony (longtime Redskins assistant Joe Bugel is presenting Cody's father). Cody wants to be there for his dad's special day, but he also is apprehensive about taking a day off.
"If I'm able to make it, we'll see," Grimm said. "If I'm not, that must mean I'm doing something right here. I'm really proud of him. I know it means a lot to him. Therefore, it means a lot to me, being his son. I'm just really glad he achieved that. I mean, he's always wanted to get in. He doesn't always show how much it means to him."
It also means a lot to his son. But so does making it in the NFL.