CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Senior cornerback Malik Simmons has served his two-game suspension for violating team rules and is eligible to play in Saturday’s matchup with Illinois.
Simmons was listed on UNC’s preseason depth chart as a co-starter at cornerback after starting 15 games and recording 81 tackles the previous two seasons at the ram position, a hybrid safety-linebacker role in former coordinator Vic Koenning’s 4-2-5 scheme.
Simmons was suspended from all team activities in late July. On Aug. 7, UNC head coach Larry announced that the Lehigh Acres, Fla. native would sit out the first two games of the season following the adjudication of two misdemeanor court cases.
The primary benefit of Simmons’ return this week is adding depth at the cornerback position, according to defensive coordinator Gene Chizik.
“He’s working his way back,” secondary coach Charlton Warren said. “It’s one of those things where guys have been playing and guys have done a good job. Malik’s going to have to work himself back in there. We’re glad to have him back. It’s a good lesson for him to learn, but at the same time, he’s going to have to, just like with spring ball, work his way back into the depth chart.”
Warren said whether or not Simmons plays against Illinois will be determined later in the week.
“Once we go through the game plan and see how he executes the game plan, that will let me know, probably by Friday, if he’s ready to play on Saturday,” Warren said.