Even before he put on a DeMatha Catholic High School football uniform, Shane Simmons was getting interest from Division I programs. His first offer, which came prior to his freshman season, was from the University of Virginia, he said. Then came one from Maryland. Then one from Rutgers. Then North Carolina. Then came dozens more.
“I didn't really know what it meant at the time,” Simmons said of the early interest.
Simmons, 17, of Laurel, received more than 30 offers, but on July 30, with two full high school seasons remaining, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound, junior ended the recruiting tour by verbally committing to Penn State.
Simmons said he made his decision after visiting the campus in July.
“I knew that it was the right place for me and all. It felt like home for me,” Simmons said.
The announcement was made on an ESPN webcast.
“It was just great to be on camera and all,” Simmons said. “It was just awesome.”
Simmons plays defensive end, linebacker, tight end and “anywhere they want me to be,” he said. Last season, he helped the Hyattsville private school win a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title.
“His energy, his drive, his motor,” senior DeAndre Kelly said. “He's got a non-stop motor and he's a leader.”
DeMatha assistant coach Justin Cunningham said Simmons was a “raw” player as a freshman but has improved the past two seasons.
“He's now understanding how to play football on both sides of the ball, which is going to make him an even more elite player with all the tools he has,” Cunningham said.
Added Kelly: “He's gotten real better at knowing the game … Asking the right questions during films, understanding stuff and catching on the first time.”
Cunningham said Simmons has always had a size advantage, but now he's learning how to use it.
“He used to be able to run people over, but at this level you can't just run people over and run around people, you have to be smart, you have to be able to think the game,” Cunningham said. “… Offensively this summer he's had a couple times where he's just looked like a freak out there doing stuff that people can't do. The more and more he does everything, it's kind of like, what can he do next? It's just a matter of him getting used to playing.”
Simmons expects to join former teammate Mark Allen (Class of 2014) in Happy Valley in 2016.
“It felt more comfortable knowing that you have a teammate up there at Penn State,” Simmons said.
The Stags are scheduled to begin their 2014 campaign Aug. 29 against Archbishop Wood Catholic in Warminster, Pa.
“I'm going to just play football like I have been,” Simmons said. “I never planned on committing this early so nothing is going to change. The only thing that I need to keep doing, is to produce.”