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One-on-One with the Pirates
, August 16, 2010

By Ron Cherubini

Q&A with Will Simmons

By Ron Cherubini
All rights reserved.

Will Simmons’ reputation as a bulldog in the interior line at East Carolina is well known, so much so that he is being touted as an All-Conference USA-caliber guard heading into 2012. Long-heralded as the model lineman by offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, Simmons also represents the most stable lineman on an emerging unit.

At 6-5, 336 pounds, he is also a load and a half working from the right guard position. A common observation among ECU’s defensive players, particularly the front seven, is that the offensive line is noticeably bigger and stronger than it has been in the past, indicating that the unit has been busy in Camp (Jeff) Connors in the off-season. Given the gains in strength Simmons had in one off-season, adding 212 pounds to his standard three-lift combination (+40 on the bench, +105 on the back squat, and +67 on the power clean), it is a scary thought what a guy who already had a rep for destruction might do this year.

The backs have noted, particularly, that the interior line has been effective in creating inside running lanes and doing so against a pretty stout defensive front. Simmons is a leader for this OL, and as he goes, may go the full unit.

Will was kind enough to sit down for a chat with Bonesville to share his insights on the upcoming season.

Will Simmons in action
(ECU SID photo)

One-on-One with Will Simmons

Q: One thing that has been clear in talking to the defensive players through spring and now in fall camp is that it is noticeable that you guys have all gotten bigger and, more importantly, stronger in the off-season. Is there a bit of a chip or attitude within the OL group that helped drive that effort?

A: Definitely. (We) have a big chip on all of ours shoulders. Really, the whole offense does, but all summer we have had a big chip. We all want this offense to do what it does, you know, score points. We want to score 60 points a game. You could see the (chip) over with Coach (Jeff) Connors. He pushes you anyways, everything you do there is nothing but pushing… but each of us are pushing ourselves.

Q: You were the one guy on the OL last year that started and finished the same in the same place and made it through the whole schedule. Tell us why this OL is going to be a much improved unit this year?

A: I think we will be much more durable as a group. Of course, we all have nicks and bruises, but we’re healthy and stronger. And I think we are all pretty settled in at the positions we will play this season.

Q: Though the battle at center is not settled, it appears that Jordan Davis’s move to the other guard is set. Coach Lincoln Riley indicated that between you two, we may have the most physical guard tandem in the league. Are you and he cut from similar molds?

A: Yes, I think he and I make a good pair. Jordan has improved a lot (at guard) and plays the same way, very physical, very strong. We want to be dominant.

Q: Coach Riley said he was really pleased about your progress as a leader within the OL. Is this a role you expected? Do you enjoy the role?

A: I kind of (enjoy it). It is a role I sort of have to have, but I am comfortable with it. I know all the guys well and they all know that they can count on me when they need help with something. I do want to be a good leader so I work at that as well.

Q: What defensive player on our D gets you hyped up when you go head-to-head against him?

A: We have a lot good guys to work against, you know, Michael (Brooks), Chrishon (Rose), Jonathan (White) —but I would say that I kind of like hammering with Michael. We go at it and it makes me a better player.

Q: Based on last season and also having played against some pretty good DLs, do you believe our defensive line has the makings of a legitimate, big-time group?

A: Now they are pretty good. I personally think that they are one of the best defenses we ware going to face this season. So if we can block them, I feel good about how we are going to do this year.

Q: I know you respect all of your teammates, but is there a guy out there that you really just hold in high regard and why?

A: There are a few guys I could name right now, but I will give you two. Shane Carden, I have a lot of respect for him. He is just a fearless leader and that is how he plays. He’s tough and he knows how to push me and when he pushes me, I push harder. I like that. And another guy, Jordan (Davis), I have great respect for him. He has worked very, very hard and his improvement has been amazing. He is good and I know how much he wants to be good and works for it.

Q: Talk about the huddle some. Sure it is different with Dominique (Davis) no longer in there. Are any of the QB candidates appearing to be stepping up as a leader in the huddle yet?

A: Well, I really don’t get into (the quarterback battle). They are all good and I think we can win with any of them. We work with them all and they roll in and out (of the huddle). We need to have depth at that position, too, and we have some good quarterbacks working in there right now.

E-mail Ron Cherubini

PAGE UPDATED 08/16/12 02:20 AM.

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