"Our visit to Michigan State was the first time we'd met Coach Dantonio and the rest of his staff," Andre Sims Sr. told SpartanDigest.com. "The recruiting process has proven to be very rigorous, everywhere you go they have great stadiums and have a nice pitch about their program. But the biggest thing Michigan State offered that we hadn't seen in the numerous visits we'd taken to camps and games during the 2009 season, was a faith base approach."
"It was genuine and you really want your kids involved with men of God, with men of direction. That was the biggest sense that we saw as parents that made us comfortable not only with the MSU staff, but also with Michigan State University."
While most unofficial visits provide a short amount of time for prospects and coaches to meet, the Spartans staff made sure the Sims family trip from Georgia was more than a handshake and pat on the back.
"You could really sense the connection and know it was real. The biggest thing for me and my wife is we promote the education part of it. The number one question we asked Andre was if football was ever taken away from you, could you see yourself as a Spartan for four years. The answer was an overwhelming yes."
With Midwest ties (mom and dad both from Ohio) the distance from home is not a factor for Sims according to his father.
"Andre has been to camps such as USC and UCLA, one of the blessings I have is that I work for an airline. So one of our jokes we had coming back from Michigan State was that Andre would be closer to home than the kids from Southern Ohio. They didn't ask the type of vehicle he had, but it just happens to be a Boeing 737. I've been on my job for several years and my bosses are excited to see him in the local papers and to know what is going on. We're a very close family and Andre has a younger brother who is a leukemia survivor, so a lot of people understand our story and know our family. Travel is not an issue, distance is not an issue. Andre understands this is the way he has to direct his life."
With such an early commitment, one will wonder how solid Andre will be in the near future. His father looks to stop any talk of things changing with his Spartan commitment.
"I feel his commitment is firm, its very firm. One of the conversations my wife and I had with Andre was about Michigan State being his first offer. If Andre were to go somewhere else and get caught up in the numbers, the one thing that would always haunt him would be what would have happen if I'd gone to the place that showed you the most interest first. To Andre his loyalty didn't allow him to see it any other way. We're talking about a spiritual kid who felt this was the direction, it was his purpose with whatever needed to be fulfilled. For a Big Ten school to pass through several stats and thousands of great athletes that are probably bigger and can do the same things he can do, it's a pretty cut and dry obvious decision that there is something special about this opportunity."
As a player Andre Sims has shown the willingness to put team in front of personal gain. While his family had thoughts of this hurting him during the recruiting process, they soon learned it opened more doors.
"Andre is a very dedicated player who works hard, who studies hard. He's a very adamant team guy, he's made a lot of sacrifices including during the 09 season. He's a natural defensive back, it's all he's really played his entire existence of football. Due to the need of team at wide receiver, Andre stepped up and didn't ask any questions and didn't second guess the coach. He understood how important the recruiting process is for a 5-foot-9 guy, especially one who desires to go to the Division One ranks. It's very difficult at wide receiver to reach that status. But Andre didn't second guess and as a result he really came up with some great numbers and was able to elevate his status. What is happening now is a byproduct of his 09 performance."
Andre's parents stressed the importance of education while also pushing home football is only a small part of their son's future. This played a major factor in Andre making his decision.
"Michigan State offers the major Andre has interest in (Business, Money Management, and Broadcasting). I don't think you'll find a better degree more accredited. Andre understands the opportunity of football is very short lived and you're making your decision to be in an area for four years and not just chasing football. When this finally marinated in our conversations as a family standpoint, Andre fully understood no matter where he goes, if football is not a part of what you do there and you only went there for football, you're going to be very unhappy. We really drove that home with him and distance was a major part of that conversation."
When asked to describe the reasons the family was comfortable with Andre's choice, Mr. Sims went back to their dealings with the Spartan staff.
"High character, if I had to chose a word its character. I've been to several visits and schools that I'll leave unnamed that you felt you were part of the numbers. I understand the recruiting game and that it's changed since I came out of high school, but the bases of it have stayed the same. You go places where you feel you're part of an organization as opposed to being part of the process. That was the biggest thing the coaches at MSU did. You could tell the other coaches we're all mirror umbrellas of the leadership which is Coach Dantonio. The program and the people who are there really believe in the direction. And when you tie together common words in like direction and purpose, you understand you have great ingredients. I think a lot of people think these kids are picking schools because of indoor facilities and things, but I feel there are a lot of underlying things that people miss about the reasons kid make these choices. I think Andre made his choice based on comfortability, direction and common ground."
While some may question the lack of offers held by Andre Sims, it should be pointed out many programs have been in contact over the past few months and many feel more offers will come his way in the coming months.