Although UNC has been recruiting Simmons since the spring, Gooden, a 5-foot-9, 200-pound tailback, didn't begin hearing from the school until earlier this month.
"[UNC] was looking for running backs and my coach had sent them my [senior] tape," Gooden said. "[UNC] told me I was a running back they were interested in, so that's how I got my visit."
Gooden ended his senior season with 1,294 yards and 19 touchdowns on 197 rushes (6.6-yard average) for McKeesport, which went 8-2. He also had 12 receptions for 166 yards and two scores.
"I'd say I'm an all-around ‘back," Gooden said. "I do everything."
Despite its interest, UNC hasn't offered Gooden a scholarship – nor has any school. The coaching staff discussed the status of a possible offer during his official visit.
"They said before Christmas break I should know [if I'm going to be offered]," Gooden said. "They're waiting for another guy they gave a scholarship offer to. Once they find out what he's going to do, they'll decide whether to offer or not."
If UNC does offer, Gooden says he wouldn't immediately verbally commit. However, he definitely would consider it after giving it some time.
"I think I would talk to my parents about North Carolina, because North Carolina is a really good school," Gooden said. "I'd have to decide on what I wanted to do. It would be a good thing to happen, but I'm not sure I would commit right away."
Besides UNC, Gooden is receiving interest from Illinois, Rutgers, and West Virginia. He's considering scheduling official visits with all three schools.
This past weekend's visit to UNC marked Gooden's first official trip.
"North Carolina is a wonderful school to go to, especially if you want to major in business," Gooden said.
Gooden arrived in Chapel Hill on Friday afternoon.
"[The official visit] went good," Gooden said. "Everything is good down there. The atmosphere is real good. I like the campus [and] the coaches." Friend Brendon Felder, who's a wide receiver that is red-shirting this season, was Gooden's player host for the weekend.
"It was good [spending time with Felder], because he knew everything about the campus," Gooden said. "[Felder] was showing me a lot of things on the campus that you can do [and] what you need to do academically. He showed me a lot of things at North Carolina."
During his stay, Gooden met with John Shoop, UNC's offensive coordinator and Gooden's primary recruiter.
"He talked to me about how the offense was run, what kind of offense they run, [and] what kind of ‘backs they need," Gooden said.
Gooden also met individually with Butch Davis.
"He talked about how he likes my film and how they need ‘backs because four ‘backs are leaving," Gooden said. "So hopefully I get a chance to go to North Carolina. He said it would be a good thing if I came down there."
On Saturday afternoon, Gooden attended the UNC-NC State in-state rivalry game.
"The fans were always behind the football players, so that was good," Gooden said. "It was a big game and the whole North Carolina team played well from my prospective."