After a season of experience and an offseason of defensive concentration, class of 2018 safety Shayne Simon is poised for a breakout season.
Not only on the field for the 6-foot-1 1/2, 193-pounder from Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep, but also in recruiting.
In Virginia Tech, Simon and his mom see a lot to like. From the development of defensive backs to the legacy of the Fuller family (four brothers from Maryland played there in the secondary), it is a program he wants to learn more about.
"The defensive back pedigree is tremendous there," Simon said. "They've had about 19 defensive backs drafted. My mother likes the brotherhood thing a lot."
Academics are supremely important to Simon, which is why Duke piqued his interest.
"It's a cerebral school," he said. "They are very smart there. They have Jeremy Cash and people like that, and I see myself as similar to that."
Closer to home, Rutgers and Boston College moved early on Simon and offered.
Both schools successfully recruit St. Peter's Prep as each roster is dotted with players from the school. Even in the 2017 class, Boston College holds a commitment from offensive lineman Ben Petrula while Rutgers has a commitment from quarterback Johnathan Lewis.
Simon also noticed a big change in Rutgers with the arrival of coach Chris Ash.
"Energy. Energy," Simon said. "Talking to them, everyone is excited about the new regime and coach Ash. John is going there and he is telling me all about it. It's really a good look."
Boston College is also making a push.
"I know it's a very disciplined school," Simon said. "They've had a top defense in the country the last couple of years. That's really intriguing and very interesting to me."
Simon holds the two offers, but his recruitment could blow up this fall as he becomes a central figure in the defense. He played outside linebacker in Wednesday's quad scrimmage at Montclair High, but he is expecting to move back to safety once St. Peter's Prep's health improves.
"They wanted to move me around and see where I could help the defense," Simon said. "It's good. It's a little closer to the ball, but I have to get better with it."
Simon also knows it is a big season for his development.
"I think it's huge," he said. "Last year was my first year playing defense, and it was kind of new, kind of fast. This year I've been able to train and I have more confidence."