Sims, who splits his time between linebacker and tailback, continues to list the Vols along with Miami, Florida, Florida State, Auburn, Georgia, Oregon, Oklahoma, Southern Cal and Michigan. He doesn't rank the schools in order or list a favorite at this point, but he's expected to eliminate five schools next month and will make most of his official visits after the high school football season has ended.
If Sims has his way that season will end like the previous four he has played at North Florida Christian < in a state championship bid and victory. Sims has started at NFC since his eighth grade season and has four championship rings to show for his efforts. A fifth straight state title (aka one for the thumb) would be a first for one school in the history of high school football in the Sunshine State and Sims would become the only player to be on five championship teams.
NFC's stunning success and Sim's arrival are more a case of correlation that coincidence. Sims has been a force on defense since he first took the field as a 180-pound eighth grader and he has gotten better every year since. Last year playing at 210, Sims amassed an amazing 183 tackles from his middle linebacker post along with 12 sacks, 41 tackles for losses and seven caused fumbles.
On offense he rushed for 790 yards and 17 touchdowns in only 83 carries for an average of 9.67 yards per carry. Sims is so good on both sides of the ball that recruiting analysts can settle on where he would be most effective at the next level, but all seem to agree he's the nation's most complete high school football prospect of the last half decade.
Sims is aiming to weigh 225 for his senior season and expects to get more reps at running back. He's still not sure which side of the ball he'll play in college, but is leaning toward tailback unless he can get on the field faster at his school of choice as a linebacker.
"I think Ernie would be best in these sets where they can toss him the ball," said his father Ernie Sims Jr. who was a former college football player. "He can make people miss and still take those hits and drive people forward. That's why any school he goes to will have to have an established running game that likes to give it to that I-back."
That description fits Tennessee to a T, but the Vols glut of young running backs could be a determent to their chances of landing Sims. Then there's the fact he grew up in Tallahassee watching Florida State where both of his parents earned athletic scholarships and graduated. His father was a linebacker/tailback for the Seminoles from 1977 to 1982 and his mother ran track at FSU during the same time period.
OEWe really want him to go where he wants to go," said his mother Alice Sims. "We tell him to pray and ask the Lord for guidance in any decision that he makes. Florida State is one of the top schools, but we want him to go where he wants to go. We're really encouraging him to look at all of his options. Most people think because we are alumni that we definitely want him to go to Florida State. We really want him to go where he wants to go."
Another factor that mitigates against Sims following in his parents' footsteps is the fact he wants to be a veterinarian and Florida State doesn't have a verterinarian's undergraduate program. He has made unofficial visits to all three of the in-state schools he's interested in, but missed an opportunity to visit UT this summer after he suffered a third-degree tear of his MCL in NFC's spring jamboree game. The knee was scoped and Sims has been rehabilitating this summer in an attempt to get stronger for the upcoming gridiron campaign.
Sims has made steady strides in his weight training as reflected by his 375-pound bench press. He runs a 4.49 forty time on grass and in the low 4.4s on a track. He has a 35-inch vertical leap, a 4.37 time in the 20--yard shuttle run and can perform 27 reps on the bench with 185 pounds. With those type of totals it's little wonder that Sims was named the Nike Camp MVP at Alabama last spring.
While Sims didn't get to attend football camp at UT this summer, his parents were on campus coaching sprinters who ran in the Junior Olympics. This was the first summer of track competition that Sims has missed since he was 7 years old.
"I thought it was beautiful," Mrs. Sims said of the UT campus and surrounding community. "I thought that it was all very nice. I ran track there when I was at Florida State so I was familiar with Tom Black Track. Tennessee has a lot to offer."
The Vols hope that a lot is enough to gain a place among the five finalists for Sims services.
Kentucky Wideout Crosses off UT
Lexington Catholic wide receiver John Logan, 5-10, 170, has eliminated Tennessee from consideration and will apparently choose from among Kentucky, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Texas and Clemson. Logan, who had 1166 total yards as a junior and, reportedly, runs a 4.28 time in the 40 said he liked Tennessee, but just had to cut his list down to five schools.
Logan was something of an unknown until he recorded a camp-best time of 4.32 at the NIke Camp in Alabama last spring along with a 33-inich vertical leap. He said he was offered a scholarship by Tennessee.
Wide receiver remains a need position for the Vols who will likely need to replace two starters in preseason all-American Kelley Washington and fifth-year senior speedster Leonard Scott. Alabama prospects Chad Jackson and Jayson Swain remain high on the Vols list as do Anthony Hill of Florida and Adarius Bowman of Chattanooga.