There’s little doubting the solidity of in-state wide receiver T.J. Simmons' commitment to Alabama. He’s long affirmed the pledge, not seeing any other campuses since pulling the trigger for Nick Saban and company. He’s been to Tuscaloosa aplenty in the meantime, but this past weekend’s visit was different than all the rest.
It was Simmons’ official visit to Alabama, where he is allotted 48 hours on campus on the university’s dime. There are some marketed differences in addition to the extended time around the program and its players.
“I ate great,” he said with a laugh. “The food was amazing! Usually when I go to a game I eat pre-game meals, probably have some popcorn or something at halftime. But on my official, I had breakfast, pregame meal, dinner, lunch, breakfast again, they just kept feeding me.”
Lead recruiter Mario Cristobal, wide receivers coach Billy Napier and Nick Saban each spent some time catching up with arguably the Yellowhammer State’s top wide receiver and star out of Pinson (Ala.) Clay-Chalkville.
“They were just telling me how life is going to be whenever I come to school, even how it’s going to be with workouts and different stuff like that,” Simmons said.
Perhaps the most valuable portion of the experience for the three-star was the time he was able to spend with academic advisors within his projected major of choice at the next level.
“I went to see the engineering part of the school, I had fun over there, it was a different experience for me,” he said. “I’m probably going to study engineering (there). The time and money they’ve put into the engineering department is outstanding.
“They’ve got 300 million dollars worth of buildings and equipment and they have different tools to simulate earthquakes and tornados, different stuff like that.”
Hosted by fellow wide receiver Deionte Thompson and spending time with Cameron Sims and others at the position during the downtime, Simmons got the best of both worlds while in Tuscaloosa again. He even got to spend time with a fellow prospect pledged to UA, also on his official visit, in four-star California offensive lineman Jonah Williams.
“We did Sunday at Saban’s, we went to his house, ate breakfast, went to the lake and checked out his boat, stuff like that,” he said. “(WIlliams) is very quiet, he’s real laid back and he doesn’t talk much, but he’s a cool person though. He was there with his dad.
“I brought the whole squad, my momma, grandma, granddaddy, aunt...everybody. They had a great time, they’re the ones who have wanted me to go to Alabama since I was little anyways.”
Simmons, who says he enjoyed the game experience against a “good” Tennessee team on Saturday, again affirmed his status with Alabama following the latest trip. He isn’t planning on taking trips elsewhere.
“I don’t talk to anybody else, so I don’t think so,” he added.
Clay-Chalkville is undefeated again in 2015, looking to defend its 2014 Class 6A state championship. The Cougars face local rival Trussville (Ala.) Hewitt-Trussville on Friday to cap the regular season.