Will Simmons Be No. 9?

With eight verbal commitments for the '06 class, many are wondering who might be the next to pledge to the Hoosiers. Could it be St. Louis tailback Stephan Simmons?

With eight verbal commitments for the '06 class, many are wondering who might be the next to pledge to the Hoosiers. Could it be St. Louis tailback Stephan Simmons?

The 5-9, 180-pounder from St. Louis' University High School said that Indiana remains his frontrunner, and that he's scheduled to make his official visit to Bloomington for IU's Homecoming contest. It's unclear whether Simmons will commit during his early October visit, but it appears to be a very real possibility. Simmons said he'd originally been leaning toward waiting until the end of his football season to make his college choice, but he's now thinking about making his decision earlier.

"I was going to wait, but now it might be right around after I take my first official visit," said Simmons. "I just want to go there and make sure it's the right place for me."

Indiana got its foot in the door early with Simmons, being the first school to extend a scholarship offer to the fleet-footed runner. That made a big impression, and the IU program hasn't slipped in Simmons' eyes since.

"They're still my favorite," said Simmons, whose prep season gets underway on Thursday against Parkway South. "The relationship I've been able to have with the coaches, I've really been able to relate to them. I like the campus, and I'm looking into business marketing, and they have the best business school in the country."

Simmons was in Bloomington over the summer for one of IU's summer camps, where he was able to talk to not only his recruiting coach, Matt Canada, but also running backs coach Gerald Brown and head coach Terry Hoeppner. He said he not only liked how they talked about using him at tailback in Bloomington, but also their vision for the future of IU football.

"They're turning the program around," said Simmons. "They have a chance to be a .500 team (now), and there are no bad bowls. That's what they are trying to do now, and then eventually they want to get to the Rose Bowl as well."

Those are lofty aspirations for a program that hasn't been to the Granddaddy of bowl games since 1968, but Simmons is among those who believe that building a consistent winner is a real possibility with Hoeppner in charge.

"The way I see it, if they did at Miami (Ohio), it can be done at Indiana," said Simmons. "For Miami, to go from mediocre to winning the MAC championship a couple of times, it can be done at Indiana."

While Indiana is his clear-cut No. 1 right now, Simmons continues to hear from a plethora of programs from around the Midwest. He said he gets 5-6 letters a day, primarily from Big 10 and Big 12 schools.

There was a time that Simmons carefully went through each piece of mail that he received from college programs, organizing and filing each piece of mail that arrived at his St. Louis home. But now that the recruiting process has been going on for nearly a year, he's no longer able to give each as much attention.

"I'm to the point that I'm looking at it see who it's from, and then throwing it away," said Simmons.

While programs continue to show interest, Simmons is excited to get his senior season at University H.S. underway. He's coming off a junior season which included 1,269 yards and 14 touchdowns, and he's the marquee offensive player on a team that is considered one of the best in the state.

Simmons will make up one-half of an explosive backfield that will also include wide receiver-turned-quarterback Paul Chaney. Both are football players with track speed – in last spring's state track and field meet, Chaney won the 100-meters, placed second in the 200 and was third in the 400, while Simmons was fourth in the 100, seventh in the 200 and third in the 300 hurdles.

"We're ready to get things underway," said Simmons. "We have a lot of secret weapons, and we're ready to come out and show them off."

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