Antonio Simmons became this class's eighteenth commitment on November 3rd, 2013, ending a drought of over a month since Gary Brown's commitment. Simmons is the third of four DEs to commit in this class, after KeShun Freeman and Tyler Merriweather. He stands at 6'4", 210lbs, and hails from the University Christian School in Jacksonville, FL, right off of I-95 on the South side of the city. His teammate, Josh Allen, is a high 3-star OL prospect who signed with North Carolina, and another teammate signed with Florida Atlantic. Simmons played in all three phases of the game in high school, but really excelled at defensive end, where he recorded 29 (!!!!) sacks his senior year. (No, that is not a typo. Yes, you just read that. He sacked the quarterback 29 times his senior year.) He signed with Georgia Tech over offers from South Florida, UCF, and Air Force, though it sounds like business picked up as the year went on and he may have gotten more offers than are being reported.
The one thing Simmons' film shows is that he's blazing fast around the edge, and that's how he was getting to QBs. He shows too that he's got the agility to split between linemen when they start to cheat to the outside. Generally, Simmons is the definition of a "rush end". He's thought to be one of the real gems of this class, yet I can see three areas that his film doesn't really vouch for. First, his size. He'll need to put on about 40-50lbs before he's playing DE at the BCS level. Second, his bull rush. His speed rush is fantastic, and a real asset that can be extremely dangerous to opponents. However, he'll become an elite DE if he can pair that with a bull rush -- and there's a good chance that comes as he grows larger. Finally, his run-stopping abilities are not spotlighted much at all in the highlights below. That's not to say it's not a strength of his, but it's something I wonder about, and it's something he'll need to be able to do to start at WDE for Ted Roof. If he can combine those three things with his clear strengths as seen below (and I think he can and will), Antonio Simmons will be a force in the ACC for the entirety of his career.
Simmons is coming into a nice situation as a DE. He, Freeman, and Kenderius Whitehead are coming in to play WDE, as Georgia Tech looks to replace the departed, NFL-bound Jeremiah Attaochu. Attaochu's departure left the cupboard fairly bare, with the promising WDE Tyler Stargel potentially moving to SDE to compete with Kevin Robbins Jr for the job. If that's the case, the remaining players are Sr. Nick Menocal and Jr. Chaz Cheeks. Both are guys who have received limited action in their time at Tech and are far from having the starting job secured at this point. Long story short, the WDE spot is very much up for grabs by anyone if Tyler Stargel does make that switch. (If he doesn't, the job is still up for grabs, but he's going to be a tough one to unseat.) I can see Simmons making a run at the spot and getting playing time this year, but without Stargel switching I think Whitehead is the other one playing WDE this year, with Simmons redshirting. There can be no doubt though that Simmons is extremely talented, and I'll just advise you not to let anything surprise you with regards to when or where he plays.
Simmons was rated a 3-star prospect by Rivals (5.5) and the 247Sports Composite (.8206).
Does Simmons excite you to watch? Think he'll be a force in the ACC within a couple of years?