Simmons Sets First Official, Names Leader

Malik Simmons has scheduled his official visit to North Carolina.

"It's scheduled for next weekend," Simmons said. "I chose that weekend because that's our bye week."

UNC hosts ACC rival Miami that Saturday.

Simmons, a 6-foot, 185-pound athlete from Lehigh Acres (Fla.) Lehigh, hasn't scheduled any other official visits, but is considering setting up trips with Northwestern and Wake Forest.

Heading into his UNC official visit, the Tar Heels have emerged as Simmons' leader.

"I feel like I'm just naturally interested in North Carolina and they're playing good," Simmons said. "And their coaches show me a lot of interest. I just like the attention that they're giving me. I like the program. Coach [Sam] Pittman was my [assistant] coach's coach, so he tells me all about [Pittman], how good of a guy he is, and how good of a coaching staff they have."

Next weekend's visit will be Simmons' first to UNC.

"I'm trying to see how they are pre-game, how their chemistry is as a team, the campus, and the area," Simmons said.

Simmons, who plans to take all five of his official visits, is unsure of the chances that he leaves UNC verbally committed.

"There are a lot of schools telling me that they're going to probably offer me," Simmons said. "But they're at the top of all the offers I have right now."

Eight schools have offered Simmons, including Iowa State, UNC, South Florida, and Wake Forest.

Steve Sisa, who was promoted from player development to safeties coach just before the season, has been handling Simmons' recruitment for UNC. Simmons says the two speak at least twice a week.

"I talked to him [yesterday] and I talked to him [Sunday] night," Simmons said. "He's just letting me know that they're thinking about me, that they want me to go there, what they have to offer me. He talks about the campus, how they're playing, how it's possible I'll get early playing time. I feel he's being real with me and now just telling me what I want to hear, and I appreciate that."

UNC is recruiting Simmons as a cornerback, though he stars at quarterback and defensive back for Lehigh.

Simmons' senior season isn't going as well as he had hoped. Lehigh is 1-4 and Simmons has missed the past three games with a level 1 MCL strain in his knee.

"I hate it," Simmons said, "because I know I can't practice. I'm just being an extra coach helping out our quarterback with his reads and the DBs, too."

Simmons plans to return to the lineup on Friday.

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