Hometown: Mansfield, Texas
High School: Timberview
Key Offers: LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Stanford, USC
The four services above consistently rate Brandon Simmons as a top-flight safety prospect. His rank within the football-saturated state of Texas is impressive, as he lands in the top thirty in the two services that have released their state rankings. There is a seemingly significant numerical gap between his national rankings for Scout and 247 Sports, which are 90 and 242 respectively. Still, the skill level is similarly high throughout most of the top-300 range, and given Simmons' high state rankings in Texas, he should end up somewhere in the top 200.
Brandon Simmons' video reveals a safety prospect that has the traits to excel at tasks required as both a second- and third-level defender. Though he likely weighs less than 190 pounds as he wraps up his junior year in high school, Simmons does not hesitate to crash the line on run plays and stop ball carriers at, near, or even behind the line of scrimmage. He looks like he has the frame to fill out at around 200 pounds. That additional weight with accompanying strength will give him an edge in fighting off fullbacks and tight ends when he has to play down in the box. Playing with a prototypical safety mentality, the consensus four-star prospect displays an affinity for contact, which manifests itself on his video in the form of solid, physical tackles. That he is not afraid to throw his body around is not evidence of a reckless player, however. Simmons closes on run plays quickly and with proper leverage, which limits a running back's options when running off-tackle or outside. In instances where a runner does have a two-way go, Simmons befittingly drops his hips and starts his short, choppy steps (i.e. "creep") to secure a viable tackling position.
One of Simmons' more imposing traits, which is very complementary to his skill in closing on run plays, is his acceleration and reaction when he arrives within striking distance of a ball carrier. These seamless adjustments allow him to deliver a powerful strike when the opportunity arises or, at the very least, ensure that the ball carrier is stopped. An aspect of tackling that Simmons can focus on to limit yardage even more than he already does is consistency in wrapping up ball carriers to prevent them from falling forward. Finally, Simmons also possesses the recovery speed to make plays even when he is caught in less than ideal situations, which is a trait that separates the very good prospects from the cream of the crop.
In pass coverage, Simmons fits the "centerfielder" role as a free safety. He has a keen sense of where the quarterback is going with the ball, and he has elite range that allows him to cover a tremendous amount of ground before the ball reaches its target. When the ball does arrive, Simmons times his leaps well to high-point the ball and reel it in with naturally soft hands. Simmons' video also exhibits man-to-man cover skills. He changes direction fluidly, and the same acceleration and closing speed that make him a good run defender translate well to man-to-man coverage. A coach will likely trust him to bump down and take on a receiver in the slot on occasion, which is another attribute that makes Simmons a versatile and valuable prospect.
Brandon Simmons is a player who has the skills to shine in meeting the various demands of the safety position. Though he is a natural fit at free safety given his range and ball skills, his toughness can allow him to be a consistent run defender as a strong safety. Which position he ultimately plays depends on how much weight he adds. Regardless of the position, however, Simmons is an elite player who can make a powerful impact on the college level.