6-6 Jack Simmons commits to Gophers

6-6 Jack Simmons from Mundelein (IL) Carmel has become the fourth verbal commitment for the Gopher football team, picking Minnesota over Northwestern and Michigan State. Simmons is a four-year varsity starter, who was named first-team all-area in 2002. He is an excellent athlete who played four different positions as a junior. His father, Terry, is a former Gopher who played for Minnesota from 1977-79 as a punter and tight end.

Jack Simmons is expected to project as a tight end at the collegiate level. He was also considering Big Ten rivals Northwestern, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Illinois.

Simmons is a versatile player, which is one of his strengths, according to his high school coach Andy Bitto.

"Jack catches, blocks, tackles, makes interceptions and blocks punts. He's a difference maker."

Carmel finished 13-1 last season and is ranked ninth in preseason in the Midwest region by USA Today. Last year, Mount Carmel knocked off top-ranked Carmel 28-21 in the state quarterfinals on its way to a fourth state title in five years. Carmel had defeated Mt. Carmel in the regular season 24-21.

Carmel goes into the season ranked No. 1 in Class 6A by the Associated Press, perhaps the most competitive Class in the state. Rival Mount Carmel is the defending Class 6A champion, its 10th championship overall, to tie an Illinois High School record. They are ranked third in the preseason poll. Providence, who has won consecutive state championships, has not lost in 28 games and returns 10 starters to a team that defeated Pontiac 42-0 in the Class 5A title game, is ranked #2.

This year's Carmel squad is considered the best team in school history as they return 14 starters from Class 6A quarterfinalist. They also welcome back QB Mark Venegoni, 6-foot-6-inch wide receiver Jack Simmons and an offensive line dubbed "The Great Wall of Carmel." Their offensive line features great size, with Drew Cairo-Gross (6-3, 295), Dan Osterhout (6-2, 275) and Luke Krombach (6-4, 255).

Simmons is ranked 14th among the Chicago Tribune's Top 100 recruits. He is already a full academic qualifier with a 3.4 GPA and an ACT score of 25. Carmel opens the 2003 season at Marist in an East Suburban Catholic contest on Friday.

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