And so it begins...
We are fully into the end game of National Signing Day-2016. Grabbing Simmons was an absolute coup for Clemson this late in the game. I do not expect that Romeo Finley will select Clemson later tonight because of this commitment. This is another Brent Venables masterpiece. Talk about maintaining your regional ties and building a national brand. Clemson has now pulled two of the top players in the state of Kansas. Simmons is from Olathe, Kansas.
Clemson gets in Isaiah Simmons (6'3, 210) a big body who is a violent hitter and will fill the mold of Safety left behind by Kearse and TJ Green. Normally I would say that he is a sure candidate to grow into a LB, but I think he will stay at Safety with the possibility of playing a Nickel/SAM position like Travis Blanks. He will certainly be a physical presence and run stuffer. The real question about Simmons is his ability to change direction quickly. I think recruiting analysts viewed him as a bit stiff at times in coverage. Safeties need to be able to read a run/pass option and react quickly or change their direction quickly and that part of his game will need to improve. However, the analysts value fluid players and don't see necessarily see how Simmons can fit within Clemson's defensive scheme. Isaiah has excellent straight line speed, however, and the ball skills of a WR. A unique combination of size and speed. A high jump champion in high school. He will play Safety at Clemson.
He struggled some in pass coverage at camps and will need to refine his technique. I think he could step in and contribute right away on special teams but might need some time to really see the field. In fact, I really hope we see him on special teams early. He does provide much needed depth at the Safety position and has the athleticism to contribute if there were too many injuries. Give him a year in the system and I think he lands on the two deep or situationally plays in certain packages.
Regardless, this was the guy the Clemson coaches wanted and they were able to get him from Nebraska and Michigan. Nebraska did land four star Safety Lamar Jackson earlier in the day, which helped our cause, but we were able to dissuade him from playing WR at Nebraska. This did not look good after Simmons official visit, despite leading going into the visit, but Clemson coaches fought hard down the stretch. Coaches are looking to sweep up in the home stretch.