Florida running back grabs coveted ND offer

Notre Dame has a chance to pull one of Florida's most talented running backs out of the Sunshine state for the second time in three years. Junior T.J. Simmons of Lakeland (Fla.) Christian has a list of top schools, and after receiving a visit from Tony Alford on Thursday, that list includes the Irish.

Notre Dame recruiting coordinator Tony Alford hit the road the first day the first contact period in the new year was brought to session. Alford made a stop at Lakeland, Florida, where he extended an offer to junior running back T.J. Simmons, a three-star running back.

"This was a huge offer," Simmons said. "Very exciting. Notre Dame is a great place, and I'll visit in the spring. Probably around March or April. Education is the big thing (with Notre Dame). I want to major in environmental science, and they offer that major."

Simmons says he doesn't plan on committing until well into his senior year, but he has four schools sitting at the top right now.

"Notre Dame is up there, and so is Ohio State, Florida and Clemson," Simmons said. "I'm going take a bunch of visits and figure out what school is best for me. You know, looking at academics, coaches, players and overall fit."

Simmons grew up a Miami fan, and his first offer came from the Hurricanes, but he admitted his fandom changed when quarterback Tim Tebow shined at Florida. Simmons' mother ran track at Clemson, and Simmons certainly inherited his mother's speed, having been clocked at the 40-yard dash at as low as 4.36 seconds.

Simmons finished his junior year at Lakeland Christian with over 1,000 rushing yards and ten touchdowns. The 5-foot-11, 186-pound back tore his ACL on his very first game as a sophomore. For much of his junior year, Simmons wasn't 100 percent, but he still managed an impressive season.

"I run hard, have great speed, and am a leader on and off the field," Simmons said. "I play for a great program in high school and I want to continue that at the next level.

"You know, I think T.J. is a back that can fit into any scheme," Wayne Peace, coach at Lakeland Christian, said. "I suspect that he would get to 210, 215-pounds in a hurry once he gets to college. This is a kid that can run out of an "I" or be a spread guy. He can do it all."

Simmons has visited Auburn, Clemson and Florida thus far. Other schools he mentioned that could be close to offering include Tennessee and USC.

Click here to discuss this story in our premium message boards.

And, click here to find about another Florida native in the 2015 class who has also added Notre Dame to his list of favorites.

IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories