HYATTSVILLE, Md. -- Shane Simmons (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.) began playing football at the age of four, and aside from a brief hiatus, he's been ripping apart gridirons ever since. Always a bit larger, a bit faster and a bit more athletic than his peers, it didn't take Nostradamus to predict the current DeMatha defensive end/outside linebacker would develop into a national phenom on par with some of the powerhouse Stags' most renowned recruits.
A 6-foot-4, 225-pound spring of coiled violence, Simmons had reached 19 offers as of May 13, with the most recent coming from Alabama; Penn State; Ohio State; Nebraska; West Virginia; Wisconsin; South Carolina; Clemson; Wake Forest and Miami. Before the spring evaluation period, Simmons claimed scholarships from Arizona, Maryland, Rutgers, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin, Cincinnati and others.
But while Simmons is certainly appreciative of the attention -- from the recruiters, fans and the media -- he comes across as shy, especially when asked about his personal accomplishments. While many elite prospects can rattle off a list of suitors and big-name head coaches they've met on a whim, Simmons would much rather keep such individual bravado on the downlow.
"I've always just tried to stay humble about everything, and that's something my parents always taught me," said the soft-spoken Simmons, whose family actually lived in South Carolina for three-plus years before moving back to Maryland when Shane was eight. "When I was in eighth grade and people started [talking about me], I really didn't pay attention. I really wasn't into kids getting offers and all that."
Instead, Simmons, whose demeanor belies an inner beast that's triggered by painted white lines and yard markers, has concentrated his energy on living up to his natural talents. On varsity since his freshman year at DeMatha, he started all last season (no, he can't remember how many tackles or sacks he had) and showed off on the biggest stage, racking up four sacks during an ESPN-televised game.
"A lot of what I have has come naturally, but it started with my parents and coaches really pushing me and challenging me growing up," said Simmons, who trains with former NFL linebacker LaVar Arrington and models his game after the Penn State great. "My parents, they put me in baseball, basketball, football – everything. Football was the sport I was best at, and I just grew in the game. But I still have a lot of work to do – a long way to go."
This offseason, Simmons has continued to progress, increasing his speed, strength and signature quickness off the edge. He's added more than 10 pounds of muscle to reach 225, his bench press is up to 270, and his power clean has reached 255. A versatile threat who wants to wreck havoc all over the field, Simmons is slotted to line up at defensive end, defensive tackle, outside linebacker and tight end this season.
Simmons won't be playing much offense in college, though. No, those recruiters want him attacking the quarterback, not catching passes from one.
"A lot of teams want me to bulk up, but I can play anywhere or fit into any scheme," said Simmons, whose father played in high school. "I can stand up as an outside linebacker, I can get in a 3-point, I can play 5-tech, and some schools like Alabama are even looking at me at middle linebacker."
Yes, the Crimson Tide scholarship was quite a pleasant surprise for the DeMatha recruit. Simmons attended Alabama's camp last year and is eager to return to Tuscaloosa this summer.
"Alabama is a great school with a lot of tradition. When I was down there for the camp it was hot, but I loved the tempo and the coaches were awesome," Simmons said. "It meant a lot to get an offer from them. I really like their linebackers coach."
Bama was not the only school Simmons tripped to last year. He also saw Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Florida State. While he refused to say which of those caught his eye, Simmons had a big smile on his face when FSU was mentioned.
"Florida State is amazing, the national champions," he said. "I know EJ [Levenberry] there, and we talk a lot. That's a great school and I had a lot of fun down there."
One school Simmons has visited multiple times is the hometown Maryland Terps. His DeMatha squad has attended UMD's camp the last few seasons, and the group will undoubtedly return this summer as well. In addition, Simmons would personally like to tour the school and meet the staff with his parents.
"Maryland is great, they're great," he said. "I like to be closer to my family, and it's a very good school. They're going to the Big Ten, it's good academically and I like the coaches. It is a great place that I could see myself at if I chose to go there."
Simmons hasn't spoken extensively to his Maryland recruiter, Mike Locksley, yet, but the two have stayed in touch. Not to mention Simmons has seen Locksley come through DeMatha and has messaged him on social media before.
"Every time I've been over to Maryland I've talked to Coach Locksley, though not a whole lot," Simmons said. "He's a great guy, probably one of my favorite recruiters. He's very straightforward and easy to talk to. He's one of the reasons I like Maryland."
One of Maryland's primary competitors on the recruiting trail, Penn State, has been in close contact as well. In fact, the Nittany Lions offered not too long ago during the evaluation period.
"Penn State was an exciting offer, and Coach [James] Franklin is bringing in a lot of really good players," Simmons said. "The coaches there are eager to recruit me and want me on campus.
"My trainer [Lavar Arrington] went there and he talks about them all the time. And [current PSU commit] Adam [McLean] has talked about them and he's trying to get me up there."
Yet another Big Ten suitor, Ohio State, is hot on Simmons' trail early as well.
"Ohio State is great, and I've watched a lot of them on TV," said Simmons, who noted he tuned into plenty of Arizona, Florida and Kentucky games when he was younger. "They have a great defense, and it's a program that has a winning tradition."
This summer Simmons is trying to visit Auburn, LSU, Alabama, Maryland, Baylor and Texas A&M. He does not hold offers from AU, LSU, Baylor or A&M but figures to secure them if/when he treks to each campus.
The Texas programs are of particular intrigue since he'll be trekking to them with his future teammate and close friend, J.P. Urquidez, who is currently at a Lone Star State high school.
"Me and JP are really close. We met my freshman year at a Team USA camp and have stayed in touch from there," Simmons said. "We'd like to go to school together. I don't know if it gives [the Texas schools] an advantage, but we would like to play together in college."
Simmons insisted none of the aforementioned programs are truly standing out yet, however. He's sticking by the "let the process play out" mantra and said he's open to any school that wants to pursue him. Moreover, he said his parents, whom he confides in and looks to for advice, aren't pushing him one way or another either, according to the Stags' defender.
"We're just all grateful for the opportunities I have," Simmons said. "They would like me to stay close, though, like on the East Coast. And that's where I see myself, either in the SEC, Big Ten or ACC – one of the conferences with East Coast schools."
The recruiting process is still in its infant stages, but Simmons is in no rush, nor will he let it cause him much anxiety. He'd rather let others do the prognosticating and forecasting, while he maintains an even keel, letting his pads do all the talking.
Which is the way it's been since he was four years old.
TT Spring Tour: DeMatha's Shane Simmons
TerrapinTimes Top Stories
TE Williams Dubs UM 'Team To Beat' Post VisitOWINGS MILLS, Md. – McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) hosted Canada Prep (St. Catharines, Ontario) Sept. 24. Terrapin Times was on hand to scout and interview Canada Prep tight end…
TerrapinTimesYesterday at 12:01 PM
Live Evaluation & Interview: Fofie BazzieCLARKSBURG, Md. -- Quince Orchard (North Potomac, Md.) cornerback Fofie Bazzie committed to Maryland April 3, and on Sept. 23 he and his teammates traveled to Clarksburg for a…
TerrapinTimesFriday at 11:44 PM
Bazzie Back On Track, All TerpsNORTH POTOMAC, Md. -- Before Quince Orchard's (North Potomac, Md.) game against Clarksburg (Md.) Sept. 23, Cougars' corner and Terps' pledge Fofie Bazzie talked about how he's…
TerrapinTimesFriday at 11:03 AM
TTDave's Inside The ShellWelcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
TerrapinTimesThursday at 11:39 PM