If a defense is going to be a physical and complete, that group has to be good, if not great, at the safety position. Granted, some teams can get by with average safety play, but usually if that is the case they are living on the edge of disaster all year. Thus finding great athletes to play safety and who can handle the mental aspect of the position is a key each year for any program.
Darrell Simmons is one of those safety prospects that every team can take one look at the film and realize he is a guy that would be a good fit for their program. Blessed with good size, Simmons has room to grow into the safety position and the athletic ability to become a dominant safety on the collegiate level.
Last season, Simmons not only played safety but halfway through the season became the starting quarterback and was able to handle the mental aspects of both positions. That is no easy chore, but something that college recruiters are going to like.
"That wasn't easy, but I knew that I might have to play quarterback at some point in the season," said Simmons. "Once I started to play quarterback, I had everything down at safety so I could spend more time on offense and still know what was going on at safety."
Simmons played safety well enough last season to finish the year with 80 tackles, eight tackles for loss, three sacks and one interception. That ability certainly has put him on the map as one of the top safety prospects in the country.
"That is something that I have always wanted," said Simmons on his early accolades. "I want to be good and I have wanted all the attention that I can get. It is a good sign when people are saying good things about you. I get my friends and family coming up to me a lot and telling me that they read something good about me on the internet, or in the newspaper or maybe heard something on the radio. I have people at school come up to me and tell me they have either read something or heard something about me. That is just a good feeling to know that people are saying good things about me."
Simmons broke into the starting line up at safety as a sophomore ,and he has been a starter at both strong and free safety. And this season he will once again go both ways at safety and at quarterback.
"When I cam into high school I thought I was going to play quarterback my sophomore year," said Simmons. "I found out I wasn't going to start and I told the coaches to stick me on the field somewhere and they stuck me at safety. I started balling and playing well and I just did everything that my coaches asked me to do. I am still going to be the starting quarterback this year. We run the basic I-formation and I finished last year 700 yards passing and 900 yards rushing. I like playing safety better though because I like to hit. I blitz a lot and come off the edge, and I do a good job stopping the run. I do a pretty good job in coverage, but I know I need to work on that some. We run both man coverage and a little zone so I have worked in both."
Simmons can bench 245 pounds, squats 650 and he has posted a 32-inch vertical jump. He went to the Alabama and Florida Junior Days. He likes both of those schools, but he is getting a lot of attention from a number of different schools.
"I have been offered by Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Auburn, Virginia Tech, LSU, Michigan State, Tennessee, Georgia, Duke, Maryland and Purdue," said Simmons. "There are so many of them that I can't remember them all. Oklahoma is another school that sent me an offer letter in the mail, but I have not talked to one of their coaches yet. Right now my top two schools are Alabama and Florida ."
You can bet that Oklahoma will be making contact soon, and when they do Simmons says he will listen.
"I really like Oklahoma and I am trying to get a lot more information on them," said Simmons. "I am looking forward to hearing from their coaches and I would love to play at Oklahoma. When Oklahoma starts to call me or when I start to make contact with them, then I will start to get excited about them."
When it comes to recruiting, Simmons knows what he is looking for as far as the criteria that will help him make his decision.
"First, I want to get a great education. I want to major in engineering," said Simmons. "I would also like to go to a school where I can play as a freshman. That is why I will be looking at the depth chart at all the schools and what they have in their secondary."
Simmons' two early favorites are from his area down South, so that begs the question is he looking to stay closer to home or could he leave the area?
"I wouldn't mind leaving the area, but so far I am just looking down South," said Simmons. "If Oklahoma shows more interest in me then I would look to leave the area, but that is a school that I like. But right now Florida and Alabama are my top two schools and they are from the South."
Simmons will retake the SAT this summer.