Recruiting Heating Up For Top Prospect Ernie Sims

Recruiting has been very busy for Ernie Sims, considered the nation's No. 1 high school prospect by network.

Tallahassee, Fla.--Despite a disappointing senior season that finished without a state championship, athletic Ernie Sims from North Florida Christian High is considered by many to be the number one player in the country this recruiting season.

At 5-11, 225 pounds with 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash, he says that despite a tough year he's been visited by some of the top schools in the country since in-home visits began just over one week ago.

"My season," Sims tells Inside The Auburn Tigers, "it was hard sometimes because I found myself in situations that I shouldn't have been in and didn't want to be in. I didn't get the ball as many times as I wanted to, but I had a whole lot of injuries. I was out with a hamstring injury and tendinitis in my ankle. It went okay, but didn't turn out like I wanted it to turn out."

Ernie Sims is shown at the 2002 Nike Combine in Tuscaloosa.

Despite playing just five regular season games and two in the playoffs, the running back/linebacker still racked up some very impressive statistics. After a solid junior season on offense when he rushed for 790 yards (9.6 yards per carry) and scored 17 touchdowns, he increased those totals as a senior despite the missed games. Rushing for just over 1,000 yards with 14 touchdowns at just over 9.7 yards per carry, he proved to be a dangerous weapon despite the nagging injuries.

Defensively, he added 131 tackles from his middle linebacker position. A tackling machine who can make plays from sideline to sideline, Sims is being recruited by schools at both positions and says that it doesn't matter which position he plays on the collegiate level.

Sims found out that the end of his high school career didn't put a stop to the pressure he felt as a player trying to lead his team to a state title. After taking it slow in the recruiting process to concentrate on football and academics, he says that things have heated up dramatically the last week in his house.

"It's getting real challenging right now," Sims says. "The coaches come into your house and try to influence you, but I'm not going to let the coaches get into my head. I'm going to stay focused on what I'm trying to see in the universities that I'm looking at. I'm not going to commit early. I'm going to take all of my visits. I'm just going to take it step-by-step in the process."

With visits already from Auburn offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino and Florida State offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden in addition to several assistants from the Seminoles, Sims is well on his way to getting the full-court press from several schools. That will only increase as he takes his visits to campuses around the South. Having already visited Georgia for the Georgia Tech game two weeks ago and taking an official visit to Florida this weekend, Sims says he's looking forward to seeing all his schools in person. He also has visits set for Auburn, Florida State and Miami scheduled for January.

A visitor to Auburn for several games this season, Sims is familiar with Coach Tommy Tuberville's program and the needs at linebacker next season. While it would appear he would be headed for defense, Sims says don't count out his impact at running back no matter what school he chooses.

"I think I have a good chance to come in and get good playing time on both sides of the ball," Sims notes of Auburn. "They are struggling a little bit at linebacker and they really don't need too much at running back because they have two juniors that are pretty dang good. I think I can come in and get some good time."

Commeting on Auburn, Sims says, "The relationship between me and coaches--we have a good relationship and that might help in the process. I think that it's a great college town. Everybody gets along well and the fans love the players and the team and everything. Right now I'm not sure where they come in on my list in the top five because every school is equal right now."

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