Oklahoma promotes Dennis Simmons

Associate head coach and outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons was promoted to passing game coordinator in conjunction with his associate head coach duties
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Lincoln Riley announced Dennis Simmons had earned a promotion at the end of his National Signing Day press conference.

"He's been tremendous obviously for us. His record speaks for itself," Riley said at the end of his press conference. 

Previously the associate head coach and outside receivers coach, Simmons has now earned the position of passing game coordinator. 

Simmons and Riley's relationship dates all the way back to their Texas Tech days, when they were on the Red Raiders staff together. 

"Lincoln and I actually always had a mutual respect for each other and a good relationship," Simmons said. 

When then-Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach was fired in 2009, the adversity the entire Red Raiders program overcame before their bowl game helped strengthen the bond between Riley and Simmons. 

"You know, going through the whole deal ... some of the things that went down and just being there for each other and being there for the guys, the players," Simmons said, "I think that just helped further strengthen our bond and our brotherhood."

The two continued to grow as coaches together on staff at East Carolina before landing at OU. 

Since arriving in February of 2015, the Sooners pass catchers have excelled under Simmons. 

Not only are Sterling Shepard, Dede Westbrook, Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb NFL wide receivers under Simmons, but Westbrook went on to win Oklahoma's first Biletnikoff Award Winner in 2016.

Dede Westbrook

Dede Westbrook

Hauling in 80 catches for 1,524 yards and 17 touchdowns, Westbrook was a Heisman Trophy Finalist as well in 2016 alongside Baker Mayfield.

Simmons also developed one of the most explosive one-two punches in 2018 as Brown and Lamb combined for 2,476 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns in the Sooners record-setting offense.

Simmons said he does have his sights set on a head coaching job one day, but he wants to focus on being the best coach he can be.

"Do I aspire to be a head coach one day? Yes," Simmons said. "Right now, my aspiration is just to be the best receiver coach at the University of Oklahoma that I possibly can.

"I feel like every day I'm here working with great individuals, learning something new or learning something better every day. So I feel like when that opportunity presents itself that I will be ready for it."

Simmons also said he wants to earn a head coaching opportunity on merit, not just as a means of adding another Black head coach to the college football ranks. 

"I don't want to just get that opportunity because of, you know, my skin color," he said. "I want to get it because someone feels like that I deserve that opportunity and that I'm worthy of it.

"When I do happen to get that opportunity, if it's meant for me, I want to make the best of that opportunity and not just be known as a good minority coach, but much like the two guys that I've worked for here, you know, considered one of the best to have ever done it in the business."

For now, the Sooners and Riley will continue to benefit from Simmons' positive impact on the OU offense. 

"He's just been fantastic and a huge key to our success," Riley said. "Felt like that was very appropriate."