ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here

SportsLink

Simmons tries to lock down WSU corner spot


COUGARS

Oftentimes, when someone leaves a program, no matter the circumstances, there is a tendency to dwell on the gap left behind. But every opening is an opportunity for those football players still on the field and all it takes is one player to reach for it. In the case of the cornerback spot at WSU, seemingly hamstrung by offseason defections, the guy who has made the strongest grab is redshirt freshman Daniel Simmons. Read on for the unedited version of the story that will appear in tomorrow’s S-R.

••••••••••

• Here’s the story …

PULLMAN – No matter how many hours a college football coaching staff plans and prepares, there are always surprises when practice starts.

Some are pleasant, some disappointing.

Put the play of Washington State University redshirt freshman cornerback Daniel Simmons in the former category.

After three practices – WSU added shoulder pads and contact Tuesday – Simmons has moved up with the first unit at right corner, one of only two differences from the preseason defensive depth chart. And the 19-year-old from Ontario, Calif., is doing his best to put a stranglehold on the spot.

“As long as I’m working hard, that’s all that matters to me,” Simmons said. “My thought process is I’ve got to continue to work hard to maintain my spot. Don’t let up on any play, because there is a lot of competition.”

The main competition right now comes from the guy he’s jumped over on the depth chart, Aire Justin, who started six games last year as a redshirt freshman. But there are eight cornerbacks getting reps despite the offseason losses of former starters Romeo Pellum and Devin Giles, including a couple of highly prized true freshmen, Nolan Washington and Anthony Carpenter.

But none of them sport the build Simmons has developed over the past year.

“He’s stronger, he’s put a lot of weight on, he’s almost 190 pounds now (officially 188),” said assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator Chris Ball, explaining how Simmons was able to explode on the scene. “He’s really improved his strength. Right now I really think the advantage he’s got over everybody else is strength.”

Though 183-pound Cal transfer Brandon Jones, the starting left corner, is considered, pound-for-pound, the strongest Cougar by his peers, Simmons is not too far behind. And even he feels that’s been his biggest improvement.

“I got a lot stronger, so arguably me and Brandon Jones are the strongest corners,” Simmons said.

He is, however, just barely 5-foot-10, and the Cougars’ lack of size on the edge was exploited at times last season. There are ways to make up for that, and Simmons exhibits the needed attributes.

“I have great footwork, I’ve been told,” Simmons said, listing his strengths. “Good speed, I’d say. Even great at times. And just good savvy for the game.”

Like many young corners, Simmons admits he has a tendency to be over-aggressive, a trait he’s trying to control.

“I’ve been working on that,” he said. “Being patient and knowing when to break on the ball.”

While Simmons worked on being patient Tuesday, many of his teammates weren’t. The first day with shoulder pads, and the ensuing contact drills, led to a series of scuffles, including five that blew up into larger groups. Most occurred when the defense, under orders to just wrap up offensive players, went a little too far.

“Usually that’s normal first day of contact,” said Ball, whose fill-in head coaching duties came to an end after practice. Paul Wulff will be able to return today after fulfilling his NCAA-mandated three-day suspension for violations that occurred at Eastern Washington.

“They’ve been going against each other all summer, no contact,” Ball explained. “It’s not a big surprise. We’ve just got to be smarter. We’ve got to know how to practice on our feet, be able to do ‘thud’ tempo without creating riots.”

•••

• That’s it for now. We’ll be back soon with the usual practice summary. Until then …


Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus
« Back to SportsLink

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

SportsLink is your portal into sports news around the Inland Northwest and beyond. You'll find updates, notes and opinions, and plenty of reader feedback.

Filter










Latest comments »

Read all the posts from recent conversations on SportsLink.

Contributors

Jim Allen Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

Recent work by Jim

Greg Lee Greg Lee covers high school sports in Eastern Washington and North Idaho. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

Recent work by Greg

Jim Meehan Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

Recent work by Jim

Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

Recent work by Chris

Josh Wright Josh Wright is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

Recent work by Josh

Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here