McKeesport player Simmons invited to All-American Bowl
At first Delvon Simmons couldn’t help but be bothered by the butterflies in his stomach.
After all, standing in front of the entire McKeesport Area senior class Monday, the heavily recruited defensive tackle became the first player in school history to be named to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl East roster.
“It feels great,” Simmons said following the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Selection Tour press conference. “At first I was a little nervous, but just to be a part of history, now that’s an inspiration to me. I’m very happy to be a part of McKeesport history now, that’s forever.”
Aside from making significant waves in his own school, Simmons is the only player from Pennsylvania to be selected to the prestigious 2011 high school all-star game.
The 2011 U.S. Army All-American Bowl will be played Jan. 8 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, and will be televised on NBC.
“It didn’t really sink in to me, how important, how big this was until everybody was coming up to me and saying congratulations,” Simmons said. “It’s just really starting to sink in for me.”
Simmons is one of 90 players from around the country who were selected.
After being nominated for the 11th annual game by McKeesport coach Jim Ward, Simmons was picked from a group of 400 high school players by a committee comprised of national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming, Rivals.com and All-American Games, the company that helps produce the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
“I’m proud of him,” Ward said. “He’s worked so hard and done everything possible and he’s just deserving. Any kid that you’ve coached that’s deserving of something, you want to make sure that they get that opportunity.”
One of the most highly recruited players in McKeesport history, Simmons has scholarship offers from 10 Division I programs.
Simmons has made official visits to Oregon, Iowa and Rutgers. His recruiting trip to Florida is Dec. 10 and he will make his final official visit with one of the remaining schools that has already made an offer sometime in the coming weeks.
“He’s got offers from Florida and Oregon and places all across the country,” Ward said. “Through that not a lot of kids stay humble, but he really has. He’s stayed the same person even throughout this process as well.”
Many of the nation’s touted recruits make a verbal commitment to the college of their choice on TV during the game.
Simmons will be among those players.
“After I take the rest of my visits I’ll probably narrow it down,” he said of his collegiate future.
A starter on the offensive and defensive lines for the Tigers, Simmons excelled at defensive tackle to help lead McKeesport to a Foothills Conference championship in 2010.
The 6-foot-5, 265-pound Simmons recorded a team-high 77 tackles with seven sacks and 17 tackles for losses.
“He’ll be a defensive tackle at the next level,” Ward said. “That’s what everyone’s recruiting him as. Certainly he has the flexibility to move to a few different positions on the inside of the defensive line. A lot of schools are really excited about him.”
Such excitement could extend to an even higher level of football.
“It’s too early to tell, but he certainly has the ability to be probably a Brandon Short, a Mike Logan, those type of guys,” Ward said of the two former McKeesport players who, along with former Tigers standout Russell Stuvaints, eventually played in the NFL.
“If he goes to the right school and goes to the right defensive line coach and continues to work the way he has, the sky’s the absolute limit. He could be a millionaire,” Ward said.
For now, Simmons is content to just live in the moment.
“I’m still disappointed about the season, how we lost first round of the playoffs two years in a row,” Simmons said. “But you can’t live in the past. You’ve got to live in the future, so this happened for me. God has a plan for everybody.”