EXCLUSIVE: Top MSU Football Target Given Rare and Useful Advice as Spartans Try to Make Up Ground

Three-star defensive lineman Derrick Simmons, a Michigan State target that the Spartans are making up ground on after a late start, recaps the intriguing advice he received on his recent official visit in this Spartan Nation exclusive.
Michigan State coach Jonathan Smith talks the media on the first national signing day for college football recruits Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.
Michigan State coach Jonathan Smith talks the media on the first national signing day for college football recruits Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing. / Nick King / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Michigan State Spartans' new coaching staff needed to be fully assembled and settled in before they could start the 2025 recruiting process. Once a vision was clear for how they would recruit the class and who they would target, it was off to the races.

Because of the late start, some recruits seemingly fell to the wayside before the Spartans arrived with late offers. It was not indicative of how the Spartans felt about the recruits, but rather how a regime wanted to get its footing before begin its build for the long haul.

Enter three-star defensive lineman Derrick Simmons. Simmons is a recruit the Spartans consider a top priority. He checks all the boxes -- in-state target, plenty of pedigree as the ninth-ranked player in the state, per 247Sports, fits Rossi's vision for a defensive lineman. Simmons was understanding of the difficult situation the new staff was tasked with.

"New coaching staff, really hard to get around to the swing of things," Simmons said. "But just recently in the last month, it's truly picked up and went well, had the official visit ... and I enjoyed it. Thought it was a great time, really useful and informational."

Simmons has found a strong connection with Spartans defensive line coach Legi Suiaunoa, whom he sees as a humble and nice guy.

"Very down to earth," Simmons said. "He was very kind to me, very welcoming. I definitely got to know him way better than I did before, and I think that staff had been successful, and I believe he's a big part of that. So, I like the potential."

What stood out to Simmons was the time he got to spend with Spartans players, some of which were freshman Mercer and Charlton Luniewski. Among the two Luniewskis was a collective of players Simmons said were honest and helped guide him through the experience.

"They didn't like, hyperbolize the strength of the program, they were very honest with me. Talked to me about some down sides they may have seen," Simmons said. "Most of them didn't, because they were like, very appreciative of all of it, but they were honest about other programs that were interested in me."

The June 14 official visit was part of a long stretch of visits Simmons was going on. When he spoke to me, he was at Purdue and his June 17 official visit was the next day. After that, it is off to Illinois for Simmons.

Simmons considers the Spartans to be among the top schools on his list.

Michael France is Sports Illustrated's Michigan State recruiting beat writer, covering all things Big Ten recruiting for Spartan Nation. Be sure to follow him on Twitter/X@michaelfrancesi for exclusive Spartans recruiting coverage.

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Michael France

MICHAEL FRANCE