Notre Dame set to host newly offered ATH Antjuan Simmons

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Paying attention in class was a little bit harder for Antjuan Simmons after he received some big news Tuesday.

During the middle of the day, Daryl Graham, Simmons’ trainer, informed the junior recruit he had received a football scholarship offer from Notre Dame.

“It was just unreal,” Simmons said. “I was pretty much speechless the whole day about it. My teammates were coming up to me hugging me and stuff. It was unreal because I couldn’t believe it myself that Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish, offered me a scholarship to play football there and get an education.”

Notre Dame became the first prominent program to offer the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Simmons. His previous offers came from Illinois and several MAC schools. More could be on the way.

“He’s one of the top three juniors in the state of Michigan,” said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming.

Simmons, who projects as a college running back or linebacker, rushed for 210 yards and three touchdowns on just 15 carries last Friday for Ann Arbor (Mich.) Pioneer. 247Sports slates Simmons as a three-star recruit and the No. 27 outside linebacker in the 2017 class.

Notre Dame offered Simmons as an athlete, he said, which mirrors the multitude of positions he plays in high school. He has lined up as a linebacker, defensive end, defensive back, running back and wide receiver this season.

September has already included visits to Michigan State and Michigan for Simmons. He will continue his unofficial Midwest college tour this weekend at Notre Dame.

Simmons was introduced to Notre Dame’s coaching staff when he camped with the Irish in June. He’s been in touch with running backs coach Autry Denson and defensive line coach Keith Gilmore since then. Simmons said he communicates with Denson almost every weekday. He will get another look at the Irish on Saturday.

“I just want to see what the atmosphere is like on a game day,” Simmons said. “Just getting back up on campus and talk to the coaches in person, meet new faces and build that bond even more.”

His experiences at Michigan State and Michigan, which he called insane, set a high bar. He attended Michigan State’s victory over Oregon earlier this month.

“The atmosphere of the crowd — the stadium was literally jumping up and down,” Simmons said. “The football team had their swag going on.”

He also attended last week’s Michigan game against UNLV.

“There were 109,000 people there so that was an experience seeing so many people there in one place,” Simmons said. “Michigan was dominating up front, dominating the line of scrimmage, and running the ball well. The defense was getting stops. That was big seeing them starting to turn it around to what they used to look like in the past.”

Despite going to school in Ann Arbor, Simmons said he had only attended one Michigan game before the recruiting process started. If he has any family bias, it would be with the Spartans.

“My mom doesn’t care. She just wants me to go to school,” Simmons said. “I have a lot of cousins and aunties that went to Michigan State.”

Simmons plans to attend an Ohio State game later this year and would like to make visits to some of the other schools that have offered him. That could change if he starts pulling in more offers from big programs. After the surprise from Notre Dame, he’s ready for anything.

“With the recruiting process, you never know,” Simmons said. “It’s hard to tell. I didn’t know Notre Dame was going to offer me. Who knows what this will do with the recruiting process.”

Offer watch?

Defensive tackle prospect Dalyn Wade-Perry is also expected to visit this weekend.

The 6-foot-4, 310-pound junior at Sparta (N.J.) Pope John XXIII has yet to receive a Notre Dame offer, but Lemming thinks one would be warranted.

“He’s a guy that you go after right away,” Lemming said. “Defensive linemen are tough to find. He has quick feet, good leverage and he makes plays.”

Wade-Perry, a three-star recruit, does claim more than a dozen offers including Alabama, Stanford, Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State.

Rivals ranks Wade-Perry as the No. 19 defensive tackle in the 2017 class. 247Sports pegs him No. 22 at the position.

VISITORS LIST (UPDATED)

The following recruits are expected to attend Saturday’s Notre Dame game.

2016 CB commit Julian Love

2016 LB target Jonathan Jones

2017 ATH target Antjuan Simmons

2017 DT target Jerron Cage

2017 DT prospect Dalyn Wade-Perry

2017 OL prospect Zenden Dellinge

2018 LB prospect Dallas Gant

2018 ATH prospect Jayden Day

Junior athlete Antjuan Simmons received an Irish offer earlier this week and will visit Notre Dame on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Rivals)