With so many fireworks in Alabama’s 2017 A-Day game, it may be easy to overlook Sophomore wide receiver T.J. Simmons. Alabama’s White team rolled up 358 yards in the air, and included breakout performances by early enrollees Jerry Jeudy, Najee Harris, and Tua Tagovailoa. Between the two teams, there were three wide receivers with 100+ yard games on a day with nearly 600 yards passing. Robert Foster, finally healthy, flashed some serious wheels. Jeudy was a revelation. And Calvin Ridley was...well, Calvin Ridley. All eyes were on Najee Harris. So, you are excused for not paying attention to a true Sophomore with no career catches.
However, Simmons is one of the more physical wideouts on the Tide’s deep roster, and he may be just the fix for an Alabama offense looking to fill the void left by its departed utility tough guy, ArDarius Stewart. On that Saturday where so much current and future star power took the field, Simmons quietly had one of the most consistent days of the bunch, tallying 82 yards on six catches and notching a score.
The 6’2”, 211-pound Simmons was one of the in-state must-haves in the 2016 NSD, but was generally a forgotten man given the limited Alabama passing game last season. A 4-star out of Clay Chalkville, he was the consensus best receiver in the state and 5th overall prospect in Alabama. Simmons enrolled early and it paid off. He got some to see action in 12 games as a true sophomore primarily on special teams and took the field in body bag games on a deep receiving corps that was somewhat underutilized,
This season, with the loss of short- to mid-range physical options like Stewart and O.J. Howard, the Tide will be in need of players that can move the chains consistently in those passing situations. Many expect Forristall to step up partly in that role.
But, if the A-Day game is any indication, Simmons is in the mix to be another one of those men. Overlook him at your own peril.
82 days ‘til Alabama football.