UA pledge Simmons struts stuff in spring game

Alabama commitments took to the field last week in spring game action and was on hand for that of T.J. Simmons, who made big plays in front of Mario Cristobal Friday night against Bessemer City High.

T.J. Simmons has been focused on his Pinson (Ala.) Clay-Chalkville teammates since making a commitment to the in-state Alabama Crimson Tide some two weeks after national signing day.

But Friday was his first full-pad, different opponent action as a Nick Saban pledge, as the defending Class 6A champions took on upstart Bessemer (Ala.) City, a physical squad that had the prospect-heavy program circled on their collective calendar for some time.

Simmons was bottled up early, but he’d hit the century mark on just three catches by the time the starters were pulled early in the second half of a Clay-Chalkville victory.

“The offense didn’t play as good as we could have, the rain slowed us down a little bit, but we came out after halftime and picked up the pace a little bit,” he said after the game. “I was just keeping my eye on the ball, trying to make something happen for my team. I played OK, not my best game, but I did well. It was a bad first half, but we got something going in the second half, had to turn up for the team.”

The three-star made plays with Alabama assistant coach and his lead recruiter, Mario Cristboal, in attendance. It all went down just days after Florida, now led by a pair of former Tide coaches offensively, offered a scholarship.

“Just knowing another SEC team wants me is just great,” he said. “Coming from where I come from, the SEC is big. Just knowing that SEC teams want you is just great.”

Despite the added interests, Simmons’ lone camp destination is in Tuscaloosa. Other visits haven’t yet been ruled out, but everything remains “solid” with Saban’s program.

“It’s been good, I’ve been talking to coach (Mario) Cristobal and Coach (Billy) Napier,” he said. “Both of them are real laid back. Coach Cristobal is a family guy and coach Napier is one of those cool guys, they complement each other.”

When talking Tide, the Yellowhammer State’s top receiver prospect often goes to a point beyond the program itself.

“It’s really the fan base, how the fans tie into the program and school,” Simmons said. “They’re really all in, just encouraging everybody else. Whether you’re looking at ‘Bama, committed to ‘Bama, they’re all in.

“I think they’re going to have good season and make it back to the playoffs, though.”

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