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Miami transfer expected to compete for starting D-line

GRIMBLECORVALLIS — Dylan Wynn and Jalen Grimble go way back, to their time playing as seniors for high school powers — Wynn for De La Salle in Concord, Calif., Grimble for Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas.

“We beat them, barely,” says Wynn, an offensive guard and defensive end at De La Salle. “Jalen gets salty when I mention it. The most tiring game I’ve ever played in, I think. They were good. He was good.”

“I remember it,” says Grimble, a tight end and D-end at Bishop Gorman. “I’m biased about that game. I thought they cheated us. California refs. I’ll leave it at that.”

Wynn and Grimble are all good now, defensive linemen playing together at Oregon State. Wynn is a senior mainstay end and an honors candidate entering his fourth year as a starter. Grimble is a junior transfer from Miami who sat out last season in Corvallis and is now trying to earn a spot in the rotation at tackle.

“I’d be disappointed if he doesn’t,” Wynn says. “He’s an explosive player, a real athlete who I think is going to be a presence for us next season.”

Coach Mike Riley believes it, too. He thinks Grimble has the capabilities to earn a starting job before the Beavers open the season Aug. 30 against Portland State at Reser Stadium.

“His athletic ability and size put together is pretty interesting,” Riley says. “As a scout team player for us last year, he gave our offensive line a lot of trouble. I can get about a 90-percent accurate picture on what a scout-team player’s next step might be. I had a very good feeling about Jalen.”

Defensive line coach Joe Seumalo is a harder sell. Seumalo, who tosses around compliments like manhole covers, squints when asked what he likes about Grimble.

“He gets to class on time,” Seumalo says. “He smiles a lot. I like his smile. That’s about it.”

Does Grimble possess any physical skills?

“Sure he does,” Seumalo says. “I have to find a way to bring them out. Because right now, I don’t see it. He has to play better than the guys in front of him. He hasn’t shown me anything yet.”

Grimble smiles when relayed Seumalo’s comments.

“Coach Joe is a great coach,” he says. “I love the way he coaches. He gets on you, but he motivates you. I’m looking forward to moving forward and learning from him. He has taught me a lot since I’ve been here, but there’s so much more I can pick up on, that I can improve on. I’m expecting him to show me the way.”

After nearly a year in Corvallis, Grimble is convinced Riley is the premier head coach in the country.

“I can’t imagine anyone better,” Grimble says. “Coach Riley is different. He gets on you without yelling or cussing. He motivates you. Sometimes players need to be yelled at, and he does it sometimes, but the way he does it amazes me. You come out of that situation feeling better about yourself than when you went in.”

Grimble looks the part at 6-2 and 305 pounds, 15 pounds bigger than when he had a role in the D-line rotation at Miami as a true freshman in 2012. Grimble says the only reason he sought a transfer was because he wanted to return to the West Coast to be closer to his mother, Amy, who was having health problems at the time.

“She’s my pride and joy,” he says. “It just got to me. The coaches in Miami, they understood. They did everything in their power to help me get home. It was unfortunate I had to leave, but everybody there respected my decision, and Coach Riley was good enough to give me a place to play football.”

When Miami gave his release, Grimble contacted every coaching staff in the Pac-12. Luckily for Oregon State, Seumalo was the first to respond.

“It was destiny,” Grimble says. “Coach Joe told me to take a (recruiting) trip. I went home (to Las Vegas) for two days, flew up here, fell in love with the school, and I didn’t leave. Every school in the Pac-12 reached out except Stanford, but I didn’t need to look anywhere else.”

“I asked him, ‘Why us?’ ”

Riley says. “I know he had lots of choices. He said he did his research and thought this would be a good place.

“He knows what he’s looking for. It’s neat. I really like him. He’s smart, has a great family background. I love his parents. I’m proud to have him.”

Sitting out last season was difficult.

“It tested me a lot,” Grimble says. “Through the first few weeks, it was tough. After the first game, I talked to my dad, who said, ‘There’s nothing you can do about it.’ It wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I wanted every out to fix it, but there was no way around it.

“But I found my way through it through the practices. I figured if I came out to win Monday and win Tuesday and Thursday and Friday, and on Saturday, if the team wins, I helped. If we didn’t win, I didn’t do my job in practice. The result on the field was a reflection of what I did during practice that week.”

Grimble says the transitional period will pay off in the long run.

“Honestly, sitting the year out made me grow up a little bit,” he says. “Observing and catching on and being the new guy, I was pretty isolated. But I look at it as a blessing, and I’m really excited Coach Riley has given me another opportunity to play football.”

Jay Locey’s, OSU’s football chief of staff, was surprised after a conversation last fall in which Grimble told him about a book Miami coaches gave him: “Five Dysfunctions of a Team.” Grimble brought it to practice and handed it to


“Jalen was using its concepts, so I was curious what it was about,” Locey says. “He gives it to me to read, and it has ‘Jalen Grimble’ neatly handwritten on a book cover he’d put on it, like it was something you’d want to hold onto forever. Tells you a little about Jalen. Thoughtful kid with intellectual desire. Leadership potential.”

Grimble says the book has become almost like a bible to him.

“It’s about a business setting, and the first couple of chapters you’re like, ‘How does this relate to football?’ ” he says. “As you go further, you understand. It’s about deciding conflict and building trust and things like that. Really good stuff.”

Grimble would love to be a starter, but he is setting his initial goals at a different level.

“The biggest thing I can do is help this team in any way possible — whether on special teams or defense, or as a motivator on the sidelines if I’m not playing,” he says. “Whatever I can do push this team over the hump to get to the Rose Bowl. My one job is to help this team win, and that’s really what I want to do.”

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Twitter: @kerryeggers

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