Just call him “Old Blood
No, Hertford County’s Will
Simmons isn’t the second coming of General George S. Patton, who earned
the nickname for his bold armored advance across France and Germany in
1944 and 1945 that helped win World War II.
But Simmons certainly
earned the nickname with an effort that turned heads at the Nike Camp
held in Chapel Hill last May.
“On the first play, he
butts heads with a defensive lineman,’’ said Hertford County coach Diego
Hasty, describing a one-on-one drill involving offensive and defensive
linemen at the camp. “He gets a gash over his eye and its bleeding
pretty good. But he kept right on going. He slapped a band-aid on it and
didn’t miss a beat.
“He got it stitched up
after the camp. Will is a mauler.’’
Simmons and his warrior
mentality will be heading to Greenville in the fall of 2009. The
6-foot-5 1/2, 305-pound offensive lineman made a verbal commitment to
the Pirates and their recruiting Class of ’09 last Thursday, driving to
campus from his home in Ahoskie to do so in person.
The Pirates' co-offensive
coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Shankweiler played a major
role in landing Simmons.
“He really liked Coach
Shankweiler, and their program,’’ Hasty said. “They got on him early and
stayed with him.’’
ECU became the first
school to offer Simmons a scholarship soon after his performance at the
Nike Camp. But plenty of other schools, including Maryland, North
Carolina, N.C. State, Penn State and Virginia did show serious interest.
It wasn’t just Simmons’
attitude that recruiters from those schools liked. They also appreciated
the discipline he showed in dropping more than 50 pounds since last
“Here’s a kid who gets up
at 5 in the morning to work out with a personal trainer. He’s been
dieting and working out after school,’’ Hasty said. “You just don’t see
“I’ve been in coaching
over 30 years. He’s probably the hardest and most dedicated big man I’ve
Simmons will enter his
fourth consecutive year as a starter at Hertford in 2008. He spent his
first two seasons playing tackle before Hasty moved him to guard in ’07.
Simmons will play there again this year.
“He’s a better guard,’’
Hasty said. “He loves to run block. He can block the defensive tackles
or the defensive ends, and he terrorizes linebackers. I think he’d fit
well there (guard) in college, too.
“Of course, he still has
some things to work on. I’m pretty sure they’ll redshirt him, and that
would be best for him so he can get the technique and footwork down.
Things are a little more complicated at that level. But I could see him
playing a lot after his redshirt freshman season.’’
Simmons is already fully
qualified academically and is the eighth player to join ECU’s Class of
2009. He is the first offensive lineman, however, and is only the third
offensive player to make a pledge.
Even though the Pirates
signed six offensive linemen in February, it’s always a good habit to
bring in two or three blockers every year. So the commitment from
Simmons shouldn’t be the last one we see for ECU’s offensive line corps.