Halloween Commitment

Instead of giving out candy on Halloween, Malik Simmons gave a verbal commitment to North Carolina.

"I thought about it, did some research, and I just committed to North Carolina today," the 6-foot, 185-pound cornerback from Lehigh Acres (Fla.) Lehigh said. "I called Coach [Everett] Withers about 15 minutes ago. I told him that I wanted to commit and all I heard was clapping. He said, ‘Yeah man, you hear the coaches clapping for you.' He said they were just talking about me. It was just perfect timing – they were thinking about me and I was thinking about them."

Simmons, who also collected offers from Boston College, Iowa State, South Florida, and Wake Forest, says that he had no intentions of committing on Halloween.

"No, I didn't plan on doing it on Halloween," Simmons said with a laugh. "I just felt it so I just called them.

"It was just the coaches. Everything just felt good. I felt like [the coaches] were keeping it real with me. They showed that they really wanted me.

"It was just the people altogether. Everyone was genuine. Everybody respected everybody – it was drama free.

"I also liked how they are really into academics. They said they were really going to support me and not let me fail."

Simmons named UNC his leader about a month ago. An official visit to the school cemented his feelings.

"When I went on the visit, it was just a great atmosphere and there were a lot of genuine people," Simmons said. "I really liked the coaches and I felt like I fit in with the players."

Outside of the UNC coaches and his mother, the person that had the biggest influence on Simmons' decision to commit was T.J. Jiles. Jiles, who committed earlier in the month, is also from southwest Florida and a close friend of Simmons'.

"We were both talking about going to the same school," Simmons said. "He helped my decision, because I'll be going with somebody that I know and that I'm comfortable with. [Recently], I was asking him what he was going to do about school and then he said 'I'm committed to North Carolina.' He saw that North Carolina was my top school, so he said, ‘Let's do this. Let's go to the same school.'"

Ironically, Simmons' and Jiles' teams played each other last Friday with both players scoring their teams' lone touchdowns – Simmons on a fumble recovery and Jiles on a reception. Cape Coral, Jiles' team, won 8-7 after a two-point conversion.

"When I hit him, I said ‘Come on T.J.,' Simmons said. "I'm looking forward to playing with him. We've done it before in seven-on-seven. When him and I are on the same side, we locked it down. We know how to play off each other – we come together real well."

Like Jiles, Simmons says he might take other visits in case of a coaching change.

"Coach Withers and I talked about [visiting other schools] before and he said he really wouldn't want me to do it," Simmons said. "I may if I feel like I need to see what's out there for me, like if there's a coaching change. I'm not even sure who I'd visit, because no other schools are standing out as much."

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