Simmons Makes Intentions Clear

St. Louis University High School tailback Stephen Simmons says that it's likely only a matter of time before he joins Indiana's 2006 recruiting class.

With the start of his senior season just weeks away, St. Louis tailback Stephen Simmons has laid out a recruiting roadmap that will bring him to Bloomington this fall for his official visit, and then most likely back again next fall as a member of the Hoosiers.

The 5'8", 180-pounder from University High School in St. Louis said he's scheduled his official visit for IU's homecoming game Oct. 8 against Illinois, and his intentions are to let IU Coach Terry Hoeppner know that he wants to join his team in the fall of 2006.

"Indiana is my No. 1 – actually, I plan on committing (to Indiana) when I go up there (for my official visit)," said Simmons. "I just want to be able to visit and be able to get a feel for the atmosphere during the school year before I commit and make sure that's exactly what I want."

Indiana, meanwhile, has let Simmons know that they want him. Simmons is coming off a junior season that included 1,269 yards on 212 carries (6.0/carry) and 14 touchdowns. He heads into his senior season only 1,300 yards shy of the school's all-time career rushing record, and only 18 touchdowns away from the touchdown mark as well.

The IU staff also had a chance to see Simmons perform at its one-day camp this summer, and Simmons said he believes he'd be a good fit in IU's new offensive system.

"With the new offense, a one-back offense, it's really similar to what we run in my high school, which is a lot of off-tackle, zone-type things, catching the ball out of the backfield, things like that," said Simmons, who also caught 12 passes for 86 yards a year ago.

Simmons' stop in Bloomington gave him a chance to not only talk with Hoeppner and his recruiting coach, Matt Canada, but also IU running backs coach Gerald Brown. Brown, meanwhile, let Simmons know what he liked about his abilities, and also what sort of running back the IU staff is looking for.

"He said he liked my quickness, my ability to stop and go and to make people miss as well as my speed," said Simmons, who ran a 4.44 in the 40 at the Nike Camp in Manhattan, Kan. "He said what they are looking for isn't necessarily someone who is big, but someone who can get 20 or 25 carries per game, but still be good for the next week.

"He said he was impressed with my abilities and that with what he saw on film, I'd be a perfect fit for their offense."

That was good news to Simmons, a player whose productivity at the prep level has been overlooked by some high-major recruiters because of his size. While he has been hearing from Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin, among others, Indiana was the first Big Ten school to offer a scholarship.

"When I got that offer, it just took a lot of the pressure off," said Simmons.

Simmons continues to hear people question his ability to be a 20-25 carry tailback in the Big Ten, but he said he has no doubt he can handle that sort of workload. He said he also plans to use what he's heard from others as motivation in college.

"I've been hearing that my whole life," said Simmons. "I've always been one of the shorter on the team. Even last year when I was putting up big numbers, a lot of people would come up to me and ask if I was going to switch to defensive back in college because I'd make it farther.

"I use that to motivate myself to work even harder, to do even more."

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