A conversation with Isaiah Simmons is like a Clemson recruiting commercial

by - Senior Writer -
Isaiah Simmons wasn't recruited by Clemson until late in the process
Isaiah Simmons wasn't recruited by Clemson until late in the process

CLEMSON – A conversation with senior linebacker Isaiah Simmons is like watching a recruiting commercial for the Clemson football program.

Simmons enters 2019 credited with 146 career tackles (12.5 for loss), 2.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception (which he returned 27 yards for a touchdown) in 29 career games (14 starts). The preseason All-American hails from Olathe, Kansas, and wasn’t pursued by the Clemson coaching staff until late in his senior season.

Simmons began to watch the Tigers during Clemson’s run to the title game during the 2015 season, and he liked what he saw.

“I remember the first National Championship Clemson played in,” Simmons said. “I was watching and I used to see all of the videos they had on social media and I was like, 'It would be really cool to play there. I can only imagine.' And then going through the recruiting process, I would send my film to all of the powerhouses because I personally felt like I was good enough to play there. But I wasn't getting recruited by those schools that much, the schools like Clemson and Alabama and Oklahoma.

“But I always felt like I was good enough. And then, I remember walking into my school one day and my coach was asking me if I got a call from Coach Venables from Clemson. I was like who is that? I don't even know who that is. Of course, with the internet, I was looking him up really quick and I was like, no I didn't. And then he came out to me see and then since then, that's been all she wrote.”

Venables invited Simmons and the Simmons family to Clemson for a visit. It was on that visit that he met and was hosted by two former Tigers he still considers to be good friends.

Shaq Smith and Kelly Bryant both. Kind of weird now,” Simmons says of his two hosts. “Those are two of my best friends, obviously, and they are two of the reasons I came here. They never lied to me about anything.”

At that point, fate intervened.

“And when I came here, compared to all of my other visits, It was like it was fate. I felt like it was fate,” Simmons said. “I was like, there is no way everybody here is this nice and loves you this much. But since then, nothing has changed. Everybody still loves you. It's like a huge family environment. And that was something was really important to me, along with the academic side. Because graduating was also important to me. The graduation rate here is unbelievable. It's not like that other schools. Everybody here has open arms.”

Simmons also found out that Venables and head coach Dabo Swinney were familiar with Kansas.

“I found out everything when he (Venables) came to see me. I found out his wife is from about 15 minutes away from me. How he used to live in Salina and K-State and everything,” Simmons said. “It is cool that he knew about it. And then Coach Swinney as well - in his years off from coaching, he built a shopping center that is 10 minutes from where I live so he knew about it. And that gave me a little more encouragement.”

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