Xavier Grimble's career at USC didn't live up to the hype of a player many rated as the nation's top tight end coming out of high school in 2010. But former Trojans interim head coach Ed Orgeron says pro teams will not want to give up on him just yet.
Orgeron, who led USC to a 7-2 record after Lane Kiffin was fired in late September, didn't see much production from Grimble last season, when Grimble totaled just 25 catches for 271 yards and two touchdowns. In three seasons, Grimble had 69 catches for 731 yards and 11 touchdowns. But looking beyond the numbers, Orgeron believes Grimble (6-foot-5, 255 pounds) possesses the size and skills to develop into a star.
"I think Xavier is going to be an All-Pro in the NFL," Orgeron told FoxSports.com. "He has unusual body size for a tight end that looks like a left tackle. He can block, run and catch, and he's a great young man."
For his part, Grimble, who is bypassing his senior season to enter the draft, acknowledges he didn't meet expectations during his college career. Part of the reason, he said, is because Kiffin rarely featured him in the offense.
"I don't really want to blame the coach or anything, but [Lane] Kiffin has his ways," Grimble said. "He likes to run a certain type of offense. ... He likes to max out one person. Our first year it was Robert Woods. Then it was Marqise [Lee] for two years. "I kind of got overshadowed a bit," he said. "But I think I showed enough that will allow me to get an opportunity."
Grimble said he's eager to show everyone what he can do at next week's NFL Scouting Combine, where his strong hands and all-around athleticism should allow him to test well.
"Can't wait to prove myself, man," Grimble said. "I feel like the underdog now. I was the guy who had a lot of expectations. I showed some flashes, but I didn't really get to max out. That's what I'm looking forward to. I want to get out there and rip it up."
Most draft analysts questioned Grimble's decision to leave school early and rate him one notch below the top three tight ends -- North Carolina's Eric Ebron, Texas Tech's Jace Amaro and Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins. NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks also did not include Grimble in his top five tight ends in the draft.