Simmons can "Impact" on the Next Level

Some recruiting experts may think that drawing comparisons between Southeast Raleigh senior lineman Brian Simmons and former UNC All-American Julius Peppers is a bit of a stretch.

But when you lay your eyes on Simmons and take into account his size, speed and athletic ability, the Peppers comparison seems almost matter-of-fact.

Simmons, like teammate Robert Oliver, is considered a potential impact player at the college level. Thanks to the weight training program developed by head coach Chad O'Shea and strength coach Jeff Occhipinti, Simmons has added another 20 pounds to his 6-foot-6 frame and now stands at a beefy 290 lbs. While the added weight has not affected his speed (he still runs a sub-5 second-40), it has given him the necessary size to turn the heads of college recruiters. But according to O'Shea, it is Brian's skills that set him apart.

"He's very athletic for his size," said O'Shea. "He plays along the defensive line for us (at both end and tackle), but because he catches the ball so well, we can also play him at tight end. We're going to call on him to play 75-100 snaps a game."

Like Peppers, Simmons can also use his skills on the hardwood. In the winter, he plays center for the Bulldogs' basketball team, and is considered their best rebounders. But Simmons admits that he'll probably focus more on football in college, which is where he is projected to have the biggest impact.

While playing on the offensive line, Simmons recorded 35 pancake blocks, demonstrating the toughness that college coaches look for in a lineman prospect. But his projected position at the next level is defensive end, even though he recorded a majority of the 56 tackles, 2 sacks and 9 tackles for loss credited to him last season at defensive tackle.

While he has received no official offers, Simmons admits that NC State has been recruiting him the hardest, and they currently sit at the top of his list of favorites.

"I can really see myself playing there," he said. "I really like the way their coaches work with the players."

The State coaching staff has maintained good contact with O'Shea at Southeast Raleigh after offering scholarships to linemen Leroy Harris and Yomi Ojo over the past couple of years, and they have been keeping a close watch on Simmons and teammate Oliver. For now, it appears the State coaches are willing to watch and see how the two develop before an offer is made. And if a scholarship is extended, Simmons has made it no secret that he would be very interested in taking them up on the offer.

"I'm really interested in going there," he said. "I'd like to stay close to home, and if they gave me the opportunity to play there, I wouldn't let them down. It would be like a dream to go there. I would try to work my way to the next level, but just going to State would be good enough for me."

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