Profile: T.J. Simmons
Location: Lakeland (Fla.) Christian
No. 61 RB
I also like his ability to be a different running back on every play. This means on one play he's using his speed to be elusive, but on the next he shows power and can run through tacklers. Simmons has good pad level and a pretty low center of gravity. He's tough and keeps his legs moving.
He obviously has the speed to take the perimeter or bounce things to the outside on an inside run. Once Simmons is in the open field he can shake and bake and he's tough to deal with in space.
Simmons can be an effective receiver out of the backfield, which gives him yet another dimension.
Simmons has good balance and vision and can stay on his feet after contact. Simmons can hit the hole quickly and fearlessly. He also shows a burst when he needs something a little extra, especially when breaking away from defenders.
What may be of concern: I don't see any major areas of concern other than his knee. He did have an ACL tear early on as a sophomore. That injury happened on his fourth carry of that season. His rehab went well and you wouldn't really know that Simmons was coming off that kind of injury when watching him last fall, or this spring in camps and combines. That's what's interesting. This year he should be back and back better than ever. Still, anytime any prospect has an ACL injury, you are concerned.
Overall analysis: If healthy, Simmons is an absolute steal for the Bruins. All things being equal, he's an ideal back for UCLA. He can run and he can catch. More importantly, he's just a big-play guy. Simmons will certainly have to elevate his game, especially in the blocking department, to become an every-down back in the Pac-12 but that should happen sooner rather than later.
Remember, the Bruins committed another Sunshine State runner last fall in Marlon Mack (Sarasota Booker) but couldn't hang on. He ended up signing with USF. This one may be a little different as Simmons seems sky high on UCLA.
As far as the knee, many players are coming back better than ever from ACLs. Prior to the injury, Simmons rushed for close to 1,500 yards as a freshman with a not-very-good offensive line. Last season, Simmons rushed for 1,257 yards. With quarterback Christian Alexander (FIU commitment) at the helm, he has a chance to put together a really good 2014. I see him as a prospect on the rise in terms of the rankings.