The first time Shane Simmons played football was when he was 4 years old. Shane’s dad Walt recalls “[They] were a bunch of little kids running around with helmets on, they knew the point was to tackle so for the parents it was really entertaining to watch.”
Fast forward 14 years later and Shane has blossomed into one of the great talents from the 2016 recruiting class. Standing in at 6 foot 4 and weighing 221 lbs, he is ranked in the top 75 in four of the top recruiting databases. If you break down the rankings even more, Shane is the No. 4 defensive end in the country and No. 1 in the state of Maryland for that position. Shane does not hold these rankings to close to his heart saying “I don’t really look at it, most of the time I find out about rankings it is either from a tweet or from my parents.”
One of Shane’s biggest influences is his mentor former Washington Redskin Lavar Arrington. Shane recalls meeting him at a workout held at DeMatha and he has known him ever since. They worked on being a good football player but also being a good person. “He worked on my character as a person mostly, football came second,” Simmons said.
Shane’s mom Jen also said that Arrington talks about how much of an investment the University is making in Shane. “Their going to invest this money in you so that you can make football a priority. He [Arrington] talked about how your time is completely your time.”
Shane feels that high school is helping him prepare to manage his time wisely. “I go to study hall 4 to 5 times a day to get my homework done.”
Shane and his family were invited to The Opening and the Under Armour All American game, two of the most prestigious high school football events in the country. The Opening was held in July 2015 at Nike World headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. While the Under Armour All American game was held on January 2, 2016 at the Citrus Bowl.
Shane, Jen and Walt all had different experiences when attending The Opening. Walt said that he was proud that his son was being sought after. “When Shane was invited to the Opening, I couldn’t be more proud because that means he has done all the right things to get to that point. For him to be recognized for what he has done and to be invited to something like that was a very proud moment for me.”
Jen said this was a different experience from all the other camps they had attended. “When we dropped him off, the ESPN guys shook our hands said hi and then we could not go past the door of the lobby. We really didn’t see him the whole time he was there. We were treated like fans.”
She was also amazed with Nike’s campus. “Walt and I got lost and we couldn’t figure out how to get back to our parking lot. Somebody told us to cut through a building and the building we cut through, in the lobby was every prototype of Air Jordan shoes ever made.”
Shane thought it was great going up against top players in the country. “It was fun, you get to know a lot of new people and their background and see where everyone is from,” Simmons said. “You also have to be on your game too because it was on TV and you don’t want to be embarrassed.”
They also had different experiences at the Under Armour All American Game. Jen claimed it was the proudest day of her life. “I cried for about the first hour we were there. It was the most proud I’ve ever been and it had nothing to do with football, I was proud that his leadership all week had earned him a spot as a captain,” Jen said. She also added that this event was much more family orientated. “It was very welcoming and we were in the same hotel, they really made the parents feel a part of it.”
Walt saw that Shane was able to see his son’s leadership skills being used throughout the week. “You can’t teach leadership it just happens and people want to follow you and we were able to see that from a far.”
For Shane, it was very similar to The Opening but saw some players wanting to quit on the first day. “[It] blew my mind that you’re a top player and you’re just quitting on the first day, they were abusing their opportunity which made me upset.”
Now that Shane’s high school career is over, he will be starting his college career at Penn State this fall. Shane had 28 offers from schools all across the country when he committed to Penn State back in 2014.
“It felt like home to me. I was more comfortable there and I knew the coaches before I went there,” Shane said. “I’m looking for a family atmosphere there so I continue to feel comfortable there, I don’t want to go there and second guess my decision at all.”
Jen and Walt also supported his decision to commit to the Nittany Lions. “We’ve got one school, it’s the same school we both want and it’s Penn State,”Jen said.“That it was the end of the stuff that had happened with [Jerry] Sandusky. There was a lot of stigma attached to Penn State but it is an amazing school [with] an amazing program with history.”
Walt added, “We understood it had nothing to do with the football program. The people who didn’t do anything about it when it was brought to their attention are no longer there. We were smart enough to be able to see through an incident that had occurred and know that it is not systemic.”
When Shane does arrive to Penn State Jen and Walt feel that Shane will be in good hands with the medical staff that Penn State has on call. Jen feels that her son will be protected while playing at Penn State.“We feel like that Penn State is a school that operates with integrity and so is the coaching staff, so if I think something would happen that they would take care of Shane.”
Aside from that, Penn State has picked up a very talented recruit. According to an article written by Black Shoe Diaries, Shane might be too good to keep off the field for his freshman year. Even if Shane does not start this fall, he knows that his family is proud of him and will have his back no matter what.
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