CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- After starting the season suspended, Malik Simmons has worked his way back into a starting - and now starring - role.
Simmons earned his coach's praise for his first start of the season last week against Wake Forest, and this Saturday he had two fourth-quarter interceptions against Virginia. They were the first two interceptions of his Tar Heel career.
The senior said his ability to make a big impact for the team came from getting accustomed again to major game action.
"My first game against Wake, that was my first game back really my first showcase at corner since my freshman year," Simmons said. “I was a little nervous, I was playing a little conservative but I felt good after the first game so the second game I had a little more confidence. And with my confidence I do get a little more aggressive."
Linebacker Jeff Schoettmer said he's been impressed by Simmons's play and the resiliency he's shown.
"He's a senior, he's been here forever, he's been through adversity, he's had a suspension, he's been through it all," Schoettmer said. "It just says so much about his character. He's just one of those guys that competes in everything he does. He gets pass interference one play he gets an interception the next, that's just the kind of player he is and that just shows how much depth we have at our defensive back position. He wasn’t starting at the beginning of the year and he's played well these last two games."
For the rest of Simmons's postgame interview, watch the above video.