Talented Defensive Prospect Looking For A Winner

One of the South's top defensive tackles talks about the recruiting process, the Auburn Tigers and the other colleges he is considering.

Hargrave, Va.-—Playing defensive tackle is still a learning process for mammoth Brian Simmons from Hargrave Military Academy, but that hasn't stopped some of the top schools in the country from wanting him on their team in the future.

At 6-4, 290 with good speed and more quickness than is normal of such a big lineman, Simmons has his choice of just about any school in the country, but he says that three schools have stepped to the front and are in the lead at the moment.

"I'm hearing the most from Oklahoma, Georgia and Auburn," Simmons tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "I would say those are my top three right now and mainly between Auburn and Oklahoma. They have shown me the most interest of any of the schools. A couple of ACC schools have offered me like Virginia Tech and N.C. State, but it's mainly those three schools."

Having already visited Oklahoma the weekend of the Auburn-Georgia game, Simmons says he has a pretty good feel for the program and what life would be like 1,000 miles from home. He says that he really liked everything about the Sooners and could definitely see himself playing there in the future.

"I had a really good time there," Simmons says. "Before I went out there I was expecting to see good things, but I didn't really think I would get that home feeling. It's a good ways from where I'm from. I really had a good time out there and the team was like one big family. It's something I would like to be a part of because they win. I hate to lose. If I go play college football I expect not to lose a game. I know that sounds crazy, but that's just my expectations. Their program is something I really respect. I want to play for a winning team."

Winning is something Auburn had done plenty of this season, going a perfect 12-0 and taking the SEC Championship. Simmons says he's been paying close attention to the 2004 season with the Tigers and is looking forward to making an official visit to Auburn the weekend of Dec. 16-17.

"I've always respected Auburn as a program," Simmons says. "One of my favorite running backs is Bo Jackson. I have always known about Auburn and I will be honest with you, I knew they would have a good year, but I didn't think they would go 12-0. That just kind of shocked me, but when I watched them play I saw why. Their defense, in all honesty, is the best defense that I saw this year."

Auburn is looking for depth at defensive tackle with senior Jay Ratliff gone from this year's team and Simmons is hoping for early playing time. He says that the depth chart for teams is something he'll look at before making a decision.

"I'm looking forward to playing," Simmons says. "All three schools, Georgia, Oklahoma and Auburn, I feel like they are three schools I can play at right away. I don't mean start, but play. That's what I'm looking for my first year."

This season has been a frustrating one for Simmons after he arrived from Raleigh, N.C., ready to show what he could do. In the third game of the season he fractured a finger on his left hand in four places, ending his season. He has been forced to watch from the sidelines for much of the year, but says he's getting closer to full strength again.

"I had to get re-constructive surgery," Simmons says. "I am still rehabbing. I can move it, but it's not back to full flexibility yet. I'm still working with it."

A standout at Southeast Raleigh High for two seasons, the first as a tight end and the second as a defensive tackle, Simmons earned All-State honors and was selected to the Shrine Bowl as a senior from one of North Carolina's top defensive teams. He says despite his talents he didn't get much attention from schools. That's because as a freshman and sophomore he didn't do much in the way of schoolwork, but that has changed and he looks forward to going to college next fall.

"A lot of people didn't know about me because my grades weren't right," Simmons says. "I would tell people from the beginning that my grades weren't good. A lot of colleges backed away from me after that. I realized what I needed to do during my senior year and made all A's then, but I waited too long to realize what I needed to do.

"Up here at Hargrave I am taking some of the hardest classes I've ever taken in my life, but I made the dean's list. I don't like the military structure, but I know it's the best place for me right now."

Simmons is scheduled to visit Georgia this weekend and Auburn the following weekend. He says that he plans to make a decision sometime in January before signing day.

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