It started with contact from a then-Rutgers graduate assistant Matt Simon last winter. Between wide receiver coaches after an offseason change, Scarlet Knight head coach Kyle Flood tasked Simon with help in recruiting the position.
The early contact, leading to an offer on the first visit to campus for Freddie Simmons, stuck with him long after the offers hit double digits. The three-star receiver from Bethlehem Catholic officially made the call Tuesday night, becoming the third at his position in the Rutgers class.
“Rutgers was the first team that stuck with me in my recruitment,” Simmons said. “They sent me my first letter, the first real offer for me … Rutgers has been there since day one. They’ve always wanted to talk to me, and were really upset when I wasn’t responding to them for a bit.”
Simmons received his Rutgers offer, shortly after Simon offered him as the receivers coach at Western Michigan, during an unofficial visit. That visit took place in March, but proved unforgettable.
“That just stuck with me everywhere I went,” Simmons said. “The family atmosphere that they had and the things that the program stood for, I truly admired it. It’s close to home, so my family can see me whenever they want. It’s a great academic school. They play in the Big Ten and they’re on TV every game, so it’s a really big deal for me. We’re an up-and-coming team. There is potential to be really good if they get a couple more players. I want to be a part of that, and build a powerhouse in the Big Ten.”
Rutgers is slim at receiver after striking out at the position in 2014. Simmons is the third commitment at the position in 2015, joining Rashad Blunt and Dontae Owens. The 6-foot-3 Simmons ranks as the 151st best player at his position in the class, two spots behind Blunt.
“I don’t want to just be another body that won’t get to play at all until my junior or senior year,” Simmons said. “If it happens at Rutgers, it’s because I get beat out, but I know I’m going to get the opportunity there. I’m going to get an opportunity to play really early, and that’s a big thing.”
Offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen made an in-person visit to see Simmons during the bye week, helping seal the deal. Simmons said he is aware of Friedgen’s background at the college level, and sees the successes of Leonte Carroo and Andrew Turzilli this season.
“I’m definitely excited to play for a coach like that,” Simmons said. “It is a big deal. I’m just excited to be a part of it to be honest. It’s going to be the best time ever, so that’s what I look forward to.”
“I’m actually happy that their quarterback this year (Gary Nova) is graduating because I’ll be brand new next year and so will [the quarterback],” Simmons said. “We’ll be able to start building that bond together right away. … I’m really excited that they have a great quarterback signed. I haven’t really watched their tape, but I’m sure that if they’re committed to Rutgers, they’re good. It’s good to know that they have a quarterback.”