“We were hosted by Ethan Johnson, the recruiting coordinator,” the elder Sammons told TDD. “He toured us around and walked us through everything. We also spoke with Coach Collins, Coach Latina, Coach Cooper, Coach McGrath, and spent close to an hour or a little more with Coach Cutcliffe. Coach Cut was great. He shared his experience with Michael Oher, Patrick Willis and Laken Tomlinson and some of the similarities with their stories to Prince’s. His main point was, top football, best academics, how can you pass that up. How can you say no? It was a great visit in my opinion. We also got to meet the director’s of engineering and pre-med programs. I really enjoyed it and think Prince did as well.”
Truly, Sammons has an inspiring story - finding his way to America after being orphaned in his native Nigeria. After settling in with his adoptive parents, Sammons began playing football and just finished his second full season of the sport. Unlike other novices attempting to pick up a new discipline, Sammons seems to be reducing the learning curve on a daily basis.
“He progressed very well for only having played 25 games in his life,” said Mr. Sammons, who serves as assistant coach at CHCA. “He is learning quickly and is becoming a dominant player. His footwork is good, and uses his hands well. He began playing right tackle as well this year for us. So we look for more positive improvement overall on both sides of the ball for him this coming year and just more familiarity and more fluidity in his play and less thought process and more reaction.”
Simmons has taken a number of other visits as he begins to enter the final stretch of his recruitment. A decision isn’t on the horizon, but he is beginning the process of trying to narrow down his extensive list and getting a first hand look at many schools. Still, the elder Sammons says the recruiting process is something that his son is continuing to deal with in his own way. Which has lead to a somewhat murky timeline.
“He has 30 or so offers to date, but he has no more visits planned for the summer. The visit to Duke was exclusively to Duke. No other stops along the way. My guess is that the next step in this will be the official visits which will come between September and January.”
So what is going to be important as Sammons begins to reduce the list to a manageable number?
“I honestly cannot tell you an answer to this as of now. He has played this very close to the vest, and has not talked openly about much. I think a good relationship with his coaches will be very important, as well as an opportunity to get a degree that will support him through life and last long after football is over. I don’t know how much distance will matter. I think warmer weather will be a desirable.”
As for Duke, the Blue Devils have prioritized Sammons as - potentially - the crown jewel of the defensive line portion of the class. And, so far, Duke’s pitch seems to be making an impression with the family.
“Coach Latina is the primary recruiter. They see him as a big part of their 2016 class. They want him and told him so a few times while we were there. He is not big on calling coaches and all the time consuming things some of the kids do. We have seen Coach Lats on campus probably four or five times in the last year or so.”
Simmons is ranked as a four star prospect and the seventh best defensive end in the country according to Scout.com. He is ranked as the nation’s No. 63 overall prospect.