Top ’17 athlete set for Junior Day

Junior athlete Antjuan Simmons put out a top 11 this week with at least one surprise. Notre Dame making the list wasn’t one and he’ll head back to South Bend this weekend for Junior Day with the Irish.

Antjuan Simmons is starting target his most serious options.

Earlier this week the junior athlete from Ann Arbor, Mich., revealed a group of 11 suitors with which he has the best relationships. Notre Dame, Michigan State, Tennessee, LSU, UCLA, Syracuse, Texas A&M, Miami (Ohio), Ohio State, Penn State and Miami made the list.

Simmons sees these as the most serious contenders at this point in his recruitment after collecting several more scholarship offers.

“It was easy because a good percentage of those schools really talk to me on like a daily basis,” Simmons said. “Some talk to me on a weekly basis. But there’s really no schools in there that don’t contact me within like a weekly basis. They’re all schools that keep up with me, see how I’m doing. They have really good relationships with my mom. That’s big. I want my mom to feel real comfortable with where I attend college.

Michigan is a notable exception from the list.

Simmons attends Pioneer High School, which is right across the street from Michigan Stadium. Despite holding a Wolverines offer and having visited, he chose to leave them off. There’s time for that to change as the 6-foot-1, 205-pound prospect doesn’t consider the list final.

“It’s definitely wide open,” Simmons said. “There’s a lot of time left, more than a year. I don’t want to wait until signing day next year. I wanna try to get it done in like November, maybe October depending on how things go. I’m trying to narrow the list down to have my top five by about August, early September. Then I can take all five officials and get it down to three and take it from there.”

One of the next steps for Simmons is taking another round of visits. He’ll make the trek to Notre Dame again this weekend for its first junior day with the Class of 2017.

Simmons last visited South Bend during the season for the Massachusetts game.

“It was a great visit,” Simmons said. “I got to meet a lot of people, talk to all the coaches and see what the game day atmosphere was like. It was great. I had a lot of fun. It was definitely one of those visits that really leaves a mark. It left a really good mark on me. They jumped out there early before everyone else did. That really sticks with you too.”

Simmons has since continued to forge relationships with people around Notre Dame.

Running backs coach Autry Denson, defensive line coach Keith Gilmore and head coach Brian Kelly reach out on a weekly basis. Simmons also keeps in touch with some Irish commitments in the Class of 2017 — offensive tackle Josh Lugg, tight end Brock Wright and offensive guard Dillan Gibbons.

“I talk to them on a weekly basis,” Simmons said. “They’re really good guys. They’re guys I could see myself playing with in the future.”

Simmons wants to dive a little deeper into the program this weekend beyond just the relationships.

“I’ll most likely talk to their academic assistants,” he said. “See how they do things, how they help their players out with academics. I’ll talk to players, spend some time with the players, future players and commitments. Just getting a better vibe for what the team is like. Then just being on campus, what the campus is like. On a game day you can’t really see that. You see what it’s like on game day but you don’t see what it’s like on just a regular day.”


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