Andre Simmons traveled to Illinois to watch the Spring Game and tour the facilities recently. He was impressed.
"Illinois was pretty great. I like Coach Zook a lot. He's an energetic coach, and Illinois has a lot to offer."
He described his visit.
"I came on a Friday and stayed for the spring game on Saturday. On Friday, I toured the facilities and met all the coaches and players. And I basically saw the campus."
Simmons has had a busy visitation schedule this spring.
"After that, I visited Boston College. Before Illinois, I visited UNC, UVA, Virginia Tech, Maryland and Pitt. Basically, we went down for junior days every other weekend. And then on spring break, I tried to see as many schools as I could. My parents are pretty supportive."
The Lorton, Virginia, safety has definite reasons for looking toward the Illini as a possible college destination.
"They were my first offer, so that was pretty special to me that they noticed me. And then a lot of kids from D. C. go out there. So I just wanted to see what draws so many kids from the area out there. We're in Northern Virginia about 15 minutes from D. C."
While Andre had developed a relationship with Illini assistant coach Kurt Beathard by phone, he hadn't actually met him until his visit to campus.
"He came by my school one day in January when we had a snow day. My trip was my first time to meet him in person. He had talked to me and offered me, but I hadn't met him in person. And then he came by my school last week."
The 6'-1", 190 pounder has the skill necessary to be an outstanding safety.
"I'm a pretty physical safety. I like to hit, and I get everybody lined up. One of my best attributes is that I know what's going on on the field. I have a good football IQ. Basically, I can cover and do everything. I'm just a leader on and off the field."
Andre will also see time on offense this fall.
"This year, I'm gonna play a lot of offense. I'll probably play receiver and running back."
He is optimistic his team will fare well this fall.
"Our team wants to win the championship this year. Me and sophomore safety Ronnie Van Dyke, he's a pretty good athlete too. Hopefully, we're gonna try to put the team on our backs and take them as far as we can.
"Last year we did ok. We should have won a couple close games. We eventually lost in the first round of the playoffs. Hopefully, this year we will go past there and go to the 3A state championship. We're in the highest division."
In the meantime, he is pondering whether to attend any summer camps.
"I'm not 100% sure which ones I'm gonna go to yet. Virginia Tech talked about me coming to one, UNC and Pitt, but I'm not sure whether I'm gonna do it. If I do, it will be to a school I'm very interested in."
Simmons considers Illinois to be among those he is most interested in at this point.
"I'm not 100% sure which schools I'm interested in, but I'm interested in the schools that are really interested in me. Northwestern, Virginia and Illinois have probably shown the most interest. After the May evaluation period, I'll look at the schools I talked to and decide who is just interested and who actually wants me."
Andre has a big decision to make, so he will likely take his time making it. But at the same time, the future business major is already tiring of the recruiting process.
"I can already tell it's having an effect on me. My goal is to decide before the season. I'm not gonna stress out trying to get it done before the season. I have to be 100% comfortable with it. I think I really want to get it done before the season, but I can kind of tell it's gonna be complicated."