After a strenuous week of exams, Landon (Bethesda, Md.) junior outside linebacker Keith Simms made sure to take a step back during his Christmas Break -- relaxing, working out and spending plenty of time with his family. He said he planned to thoroughly enjoy both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the former spent at his grandmother’s house and with family friends, and the latter at his Bethesda home with many of his relatives.
While he certainly liked reconnecting, all that extra family time gave Simms an opportunity to bounce college ideas off his loved ones as well. The Landon product has developed into a hot commodity on the recruiting trail, and now claims upwards of 15 verbals from the likes of Maryland, Boston College, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Marshall, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Virginia, Wake Forest and West Virginia, among others.
“Me and my family, my parents, we were talking over the holidays about different schools, and the ones we’ve been talking about a lot are Maryland, definitely, then North Carolina, Boston College, Virginia and Wake Forest,” said the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Simms. “I don’t really have a leader, because I haven’t really checked out some of these places yet, but right now, those [UMD, UNC, BC, UVA and Wake] are definitely the schools I’ve been focusing on.”
Virginia actually just entered the picture Dec. 22, making it Simms’ most recent offer to date. He also pulled in Toledo in mid-December as well.
“UVA was a good one to get. It’s a local school, a good academic school and I’ll be down to visit at some point,” Simms said. “I have family not too far from there in Madison, Va., and it’s not that far of a drive.”
It’s not a far drive to College Park, Md., either. Simms has already been to Maryland multiple times in the last half-year, including attending three games this fall. He was at the UMD-WVU bout, the UMD-Ohio State affair and the UMD-Michigan State game as well.
Simms lauded the atmosphere and environment after all three, noting how packed Byrd Stadium was for WVU and OSU, while talking up the “black out” for the MSU game. He also praised the coaching staff and team, even though the Terps were on the losing end against all three foes.
“Maryland is definitely a school I’m very interested in; they’re definitely one that’s at the top of my list, for sure,” Simms said. “I was there for thee games, and I’m going to make it up definitely this offseason since it’s obviously not far. I was talking to Coach [Chad] Wilt about that, and we’re setting something up so me and my parents can come up. My parents really haven’t been there, so they really want to get up to see the school at some point. I’m looking forward to that, definitely.”
The Landon rush backer said he knows most of the Terps’ coaches, and has a particularly strong rapport with his area recruiter, Wilt. He’s also met Randy Edsall on several occasions and has offered up plenty of positive comments about the UMD headman.
“The coaches at Maryland, they’re always coming to see me or talking to me at games or online, making me a priority in the recruiting process,” Simms said. “Coach Edsall, he’s been by my school like three or four times, and that always means something when the head coach shows that kind of interest. He’s very big on academics and getting your education, and that’s something that stands out to me a lot.
“And my relationship with Coach Wilt is really good; he’s a standout for me as far as coaches I’m in touch with. We obviously talk about football, but we also talk about SATs, academics and other things going on in my life. He really takes the next step to get to know me as a person and not just as a football player, so I really like that.”
Simms is also well aware that many of his fellow Maryland-D.C. recruits are giving the local university a long look. He said the Terps’ ability to pull in senior defensive lineman Adam McLean (Quince Orchard/Gaithersburg, Md.), junior outside backer Keandre Jones (Good Counsel/Olney, Md.) and junior running back Lorenzo Harrison (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.) was “huge” for the program, signaling to other DMV talents that UMD could develop into a Big Ten breadwinner.
Simms went on to say if Maryland were to land elite four-star quarterback Dwayne Haskins (Potomac/Bethesda, Md.), who the Landon product knows personally, it would be an even greater boon to the “stay home” movement.”
“With the guys from the area that Maryland is brining in, that’s definitely big for them and big to me too,” Simms said. “I’m definitely going to wait around a little bit and see where guys from around here are going. Dwayne [Haskins] is kind of like the front-runner in the DMV, and he definitely wants to get players -- offensively and defensively -- to join him at Maryland or whatever school he chooses. So that’s something I’m paying close attention to.
“And I personally, I believe if all the guys from this area go to Maryland, with all the talented players we have here, we can do something special there. We can make it a powerhouse. So that’s definitely something I’m looking forward to.”
While he didn’t hide his affinity for the hometown, Maryland isn’t the only school Simms is considering, however. He said he wants to visit UMD, UNC, Wake Forest, UVA and BC this offseason, while maybe making it up to Rutgers and Syracuse if he has time. As aforementioned, the Terps, Tar Heels, Wahoos, Eagles and Deacons have his ear at the moment.
“I was able to see Maryland, West Virgina and Penn State for games, but after the New Year I’ll be making the rounds and start taking visits,” said Simms, who mentioned that coaches from UMD, UNC, WVU and RU are pushing the hardest for him and have had the most contact. “Then I’ll probably release some top schools by the end of the school year or the beginning of the summer. Then hopefully I’ll make my decision by the end of the summer, before football season.”
There’s a chance Simms could select his school even earlier, however.
“I’m thinking the end of the summer right now, because that’s what I’ve discussed with my family,” Simms said. “But that could change if I really fall in love with a school that I’m anxious to be at. So we’ll see what happens.”
Simms, who played primarily defensive end for Landon, is coming off a double-digit sack junior campaign that landed him on a couple different all-state/area lists. He led his team to a 5-4 record, which Simms considered subpar for Landon.
“The season went OK I guess. I was hoping we’d have won more games. We ran into some tough teams like Georgetown Prep and Bullis down the stretch, but we have a lot of guys returning next year, so hopefully my senior year we can go out on top,” Simms said. “Personally, I think I played alright, but there’s things I feel I can do better like strength and working on having more counter moves and stuff off the defensive line.
“And next year will be a big year for me because I’ll probably be playing outside linebacker next year, which is big because it will prepare me for that transition to college.”
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