Simmons guided by faith

Aderious Simmons never played a down of football in high school. Yet here he was three years ago, with a undoubtedly good dose of audacity, marching into one of the most storied programs in college football, seeking a chance to play. The long drive from New Orleans to the University of Miami never led to a scholarship offer by the Hurricanes, but it marked the beginning of an interesting journey.

Aderious Simmons graduated from Marrero (LA) Ehret high school in 2005, and his 6-7 frame was frequently seen on the hardwood playing basketball although he never played for his high school. After working for the next couple of years following his graduation he decided to enroll in Northwest Community College in Mississippi.

He never suited up on the gridiron for Northwest either, but just being introduced up close to the game of football was all he needed to plant the pigskin bug in him. Getting familiar with practices, plays and the conditioning drills made the sport extremely appealing to him. "It was a sign from God that this is what I need to do – play football," said Simmons.

Indeed, Simmons' strong faith was a vital ingredient as he started his challenging quest to play football.

The offensive tackle made the long drive from his New Orleans area home to Miami, as he tried to begin and fulfill his dream. The Hurricane coaches advised him to take the junior college route so he can eventually realize his goal of playing Division I football.

"I never knew about junior college football because we didn't have that in New Orleans," Simmons explained. "So I'm happy that I got to talk to the Miami coaches because they showed me what I had to do."

Ironically, the school that was recommended to him, Pasadena (Calif.) City College, ended up being one more temporary stop. After many of the team's coaches left, Simmons decided to transfer to El Camino in Torrance Calif.

One of those coaches who departed was Pablo Cano, who became ASU's recruiting graduate assistant. Needless to say that Cano was instrumental in eventually landing the offensive tackle in Tempe.

The transition for Simmons, both playing the game for the very first time and moving cross country, couldn't have been smoother. He hit the ground running starting virtually every game for Pasadena at both left and right tackle and quickly drew rave reviews from his coaches.

"I just let God lead the way for me," Simmons stated. "I got used to being away from home because it's just something that had to be done. The Madden video game can't teach you everything you need to know about the game, but I was doing a lot of things right starting in the first practice.

"It was like playing football was second nature to me."

After transferring to El Camino in 2009, Cano brought Simmons to the attention of then Sun Devil wide receivers coach Eric Yarber, who was in charge of recruiting the Los Angeles metro area. Yarber was also pursuing Simmons' line mate Chris De Armas who also signed a letter of intent to play for the maroon and gold (De Armas was a mid-year transfer while Simmons signed in February).

"He's one of the coolest guys I ever met," Simmons recalled, "and my coaches at El Co (El Camino) told me that he was a good dude and that if I went to Arizona State I'll be alright. Everything just started out real good. I liked everything he had to tell me about the program.

"I don't think I influenced Chris and he didn't influence me. We're both grown men and had to make the right decision that was best for each of us on our own and not because the other person was going to ASU."

The recruiting process kicked off so well for both linemen that they both committed to the Sun Devils before taking their official visit to Tempe. Simmons although didn't firm up his commitment until that visit and was seriously thinking of committing to San Diego State.

"I loved the weather there and it was warm even though it was winter," Simmons commented on his Tempe visit. "I loved the weight room too and Coach Ben (Hilgart, ASU's strength and conditioning coach) is a great guy. He was really explaining to me everything I need to know about their program. I was going to stop him and tell him that he didn't have to explain anything else to me because I'm going to sign here. But he was so smooth I didn't want to stop him (laughs).

"I visited San Diego State before I visited Arizona State. They had a nice staff and they are located in a nice area, but Arizona State was just a better fit."

Arriving at ASU just a few weeks ago, Simmons is once again experiencing an easy changeover.

"I'm thanking God everyday for being here," Simmons confessed. "It's a blessing. The strength and conditioning program here is different than El Camino but it isn't hard and I actually like it better. I feel like I'm getting better results."

"It's great having Chris out here. He's like a big brother to me. He's showing me the ropes and making sure I do well in the drills and everything."

Naturally, a lot is expected from a JC transfer in terms of immediate impact. Simmons is right now projected at left tackle, the position he played at El Camino. He knows that there is more perceived pressure playing a role aimed to protect the signal caller's blind side, but he doesn't let that pressure affect his overall goal of constantly improving.

"I'm getting better everyday," Simmons commented. "I haven't practiced since last fall and there are a lot of good players out here, but thank God I am improving all the time and that's what I have to do so I can achieve perfection.

"I need to learn stuff I don't know and correct stuff that I don't know is wrong because I didn't play in high school. When I'm watching film I need to know what I need to be focusing on. I need to study stuff like better hand placement, feet movement, better posture, how to read the defense…everything is important to me."

Simmons currently weighs 295 lbs. and would like to make a weight of 310 when the season starts. His highest marks in the weight room during his junior college days were 315 lbs. benching, 300 on the power clean and over 400 squatting.

Playing only two years of football could be implied as being a disadvantage for a player such as Simmons who will be trying to stake his claim for a starting position against players who have been involved in the game for many more years than him. Nonetheless, the offensive tackle didn't come this far on his voyage to be easily intimated by such challenges, and is as confident as he always has been with his ability to thrive.

"It's not going to stop me from accomplishing more," Simmons said regarding his inexperience. "I'm already a humble person that wants to learn all the time. I'm not saying that a player that has played football all their life isn't humble or hungry because I'm not in their shoes. But I know I always have the drive to succeed."

Introducing Aderious Simmons

High School/Junior College

El Camino College (Torrance, Calif.)

Position

Offensive Tackle

Height

6-7

Weight

295

Date of birth

2/22/87

Birthplace

New Orleans

Favorite TV show

"Anything on the Gospel Channel"

Favorite movie

"The Last Dragon"

Favorite singer/band

"I like all Gospel music and singers such as Fred Hammond,Donnie McClurkin, Bebe & Cece Winans, Hezekiah Walker, Micah Stampley, Mary Mary, Shekinah Glory and William Murphy."

Favorite food

"Fettuccine Alfredo"

Favorite drink

"Water"

Favorite athlete

"I don't have one particular one"

Favorite pro team

"New Orleans Saints"

Person you most admire

"Jesus Christ, our Lord and savior. My faith has made me the person I am today. I owe everything to him."

Why did you choose ASU?

"The coaching staff was cool and I just liked everything about the school."

Where do you want to be in ten years?

"Hopefully tearing it up in the NFL. If that doesn't work out I just trust God will lead me to whatever he has planned for me."


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