As a redshirt freshman in 2013, Jordan Simmons was slated to back up Max Tuerk at left guard and get some good playing time on a thin offensive line. Simmons came in as a heralded recruit the previous year and the reputation followed along with him. As a five-star lineman prospect, you’re expected to contribute in a big way down the road. Those expectations took a hit though as Simmons suffered a knee injury that Ed Orgeron called a ‘freak’ accident at the time.
It’s been a long road back to the field for Simmons as he missed a total of seven games in 2013-14, as well as spring practice. Simmons says he’s still rehabbing, but he’s good to play. He saw his first action of the season this past weekend against Boston College and was positive in regards to his play.
“It felt good,” Simmons said. “I just have to get back into the game speed. Just getting back to operating at game level. It felt good. As the season goes by, I’ll be able to play faster and work as a unit better. It’s different from practice. We practice fast, but the game is always different from practice.”
The offensive line as a group had some challenges on Saturday night against a veteran Boston college front seven and Simmons had a chance to watch film of the game. Instantly, there was one thing that stood out to him that the group can improve on.
“We just have to communicate better,” Simmons said. “That’s all it comes down too. Communication is big throughout the whole world. That’s it. Just communication. Love it or not, communicate and it’ll be one of the best games we ever play. When you don’t communicate, it slows you down and you block the wrong dude.”
Simmons hasn’t been back on the field for very long due to rehabbing from his injury, but he’s still eying that starting job on the offensive line. True freshman Toa Lobendahn has been the primary starter at left guard thus far into the season and Simmons has been working with the former four-star a lot.
“It’s good,” Simmons said. “We’re rotating. Just like I said, I’m trying to get my rhythm back. This is like my second week of actually full practice so I’m getting back into the swing of things, getting back into shape.”
The offensive guard position on USC’s team is very young. Three true freshmen, Toa Lobendahn, Damien Mama and Viane Talamaivao, are included in the group along with Simmons and redshirt freshman Khaliel Rodgers. The inexperience of the position showed a bit this past weekend, but Simmons insists that the group is improving and bonding off the field.
“Just communication and we bond outside of the McKay Center,” Simmons said. “We’re a tight group. We have to be the tightest group on the team. We got to lead the team to destiny.”
As the senior member of the group, Simmons has been impressed with the true freshmen.
“They just came in, put a good impression on the coaching staff and they’re out there doing good,” Simmons said. “When you have talent, they can’t pass you up. All of our freshmen lineman are talented.”
Simmons only hopes to get better as his USC career progresses and he thinks offensive line coach Tim Drevno can help him immensely. Much to the tune of what other players have said, Simmons has been very pleased with Drevno.
“He’s good,” Simmons said. “He’s a real good coach. He expects a lot out of the group, he demands a lot, and he wants the best for us.”
Marshall Cherrington will be attending USC and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism beginning in January of 2015. You can follow him on Twitter @MWCherrington.