Junior Season Highlights:|
"He plays with a lot of tenacity," Hertford County head football coach Diego Hasty said. "He's an extremely hard worker – the hardest working big guy that I've coached in my 30-something years of coaching high school football. He's very dedicated. Whatever you tell him to do he's going to do it."
Simmons' dedication was evident when he hired a personal trainer this winter to help him slim down and work on his lateral quickness – his two biggest areas for improvement.
In addition to UNC and NC State, Simmons is hearing from Alabama, East Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. Roughly a month ago, the Pirates extended Simmons his first scholarship offer.
"I had been talking to Coach [Steve] Shankweiler off and on about [an offer]," Simmons said. "He already told me he wanted me and everything. So all he did was just send it in the mail."
UNC could be close to offering a scholarship, also.
"Coach Browning knows a lot about him," Hasty said. "I'm waiting to hear back from them. I sent them a highlight tape, but they want a game tape so I mailed that out last week. They're playing it by the book right now."
Most schools, though, want to see Simmons in person before making a decision.
"A lot of people want him to come to camp and work out one more time," Hasty said. "A lot of these combines are going to help him."
In addition to returning to UNC's and NC State's camps, Simmons plans to camp at Penn State and Virginia Tech this summer.
Pittman informed Simmons that UNC is looking to bring in four offensive linemen with at least three being tackles. Simmons projects as an interior lineman.
"Most of the teams that I've talked to want me to play guard because of my muscle mass and my size," Simmons said.
Hasty agrees with the assessment.
"He's such a dominate run blocker," Hasty said. "If he gets his hands on you you're through.
"Out there at tackle, facing real fast defensive ends getting the drop steps he's not real comfortable. He does a great job [at tackle], but for playing at a big time level, he's much more comfortable pass blocking from the inside."
This fall Simmons will become a four-year starter at Hertford County. During his freshman and sophomore seasons he predominately played right tackle, but saw plenty of reps at left tackle.
"He was the down blocker, most of the time, on the option they used to run," Hasty said. "He would have to get on linebackers. One thing about him is he's always going up field getting somebody."
After being named head coach at Hertford County last July, Hasty went to a north-south run-oriented offense and moved Simmons to right guard.
"We know that his position in college will be offensive guard and that's what we want him to focus on," Hasty said. "That's where he's going to stay, because that's where his future is."
Hertford County amassed nearly 3,000 yards rushing last season. Hasty estimates two-thirds of their runs took place on Simmons' side.
This season Simmons will see increased reps on defense at tackle and will be an important part to Hertford County's newly installed spread offense.
"He'll be a key," Hasty said. "Most of our important plays he'll either pull or we'll run behind him a lot."
For recruiting questions, Simmons reaches out to former teammate and current Tar Heel Tydreke Powell.
"I still call him and ask him for advice," Simmons said. "I talked to ‘Dreke the other day. He was telling me how it is at Chapel Hill. He comes down here and visits some, so we'll sit down and talk about recruiting some."
Simmons isn't in a rush to make a decision and therefore is considering all options.
"I like all the in-state schools and basically anybody who is recruiting me," Simmons said. "There is something unique I like about every school that I've been to so far."
By the end of the spring Simmons hopes to have a solid list of favorite schools.
"I think I'll be looking at the education and the team unity," Simmons said. "That's what I really like, I like when the team is close. I think that's where you win most of your games at."
Thus far, Simmons has attended junior days at UNC and NC State, and unofficially visited Notre Dame. He figures to return to UNC this spring, and also make trips to ECU and Maryland.
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