The top running back in Michigan in the recruiting class of 2017 won’t be carrying the ball in college — and he won’t be playing his college football in the state, either, except maybe once or twice a year.
Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Antjuan Simmons, a Dream Team all-state running back as a junior, has verbally committed to Ohio State, where he will be the one doing the tackling, as opposed to being tackled.
“They want me to play linebacker,” Simmons told the Free Press today. “It doesn’t matter, I just want to play. If I can run fast and hit people, I don’t care where I play.”
Simmons, 6-feet-1 and 199 pounds, is ranked by rivals.com as the fifth-best player in the state and the 10th-best outside linebacker in the country.
As a junior, he ran for 1,112 yards and 18 touchdowns on 148 carries. He also had 65 tackles, eight for loss.
Although he was recruited by most of the top programs in the country, Simmons leaned toward Ohio State since the beginning of the recruiting process.
“The relationships I have with the coaches is important,” he said. “I’m really heavy on relationships, and they really jumped out there and made it feel like Ohio State was home for me.”
His recruiting process began in earnest last March, and each time he went to Columbus, Simmons felt more and more at home. Helping sway him was former Detroit Cass Tech running back Mike Weber, who redshirted last season at OSU.
“I visited four times, and the visits were great,” Simmons said. “I’m really cool with a few players that are committed there, and I used to train with Mike Weber. Me and him are really cool. He’s awesome.”
“Ohio State, they’ve been out there since I started getting all those offers and stuff and didn’t look back,” he said. “When they found out about other places, they turned it up a notch and really let me know I was their guy and they really wanted me.”
Pioneer is literally across the street from Michigan Stadium, and Simmons lives about 15 minutes away. But he said the proximity to U-M didn’t play into his decision and his mother, Tawan, is on board with his decision to leave the state.
“It’s just like home, so it doesn’t matter to me at all,” he said. “My mom loves OSU; they’ve been recruiting her really hard, too, and they really jumped out there with her, too.”
Verbal commitments are nonbinding until national letters of intent are signed next February.
https://twitter.com/_antjuan_/status/704698823474552832Recruiting: Top 10 prospects in Michigan for 2017
Full list: Michigan’s recruits (with highlight videos)
Full list: Michigan State recruits (with highlights)
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.