Clemson Linebacker Isaiah Simmons: Humble Over Hype

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Patricia Traina

Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons hasn’t exactly been living in solitude these last few months.

The 21-year-old has heard all the hype attached to his name, and how NFL teams love his versatility.

But throughout this journey, Simmons has tried to keep his feet on the ground and be who he’s always been.

Humble Over Hype. That’s who Isaiah Simmons is, as he explains in the video below. 

Being good in sports—besides football Simmons has run track—has also helped him become a versatile player that has NFL teams drooling and which has prompted numerous NFL draft analysts to link Simmons to the Giants with the fourth overall pick in next month’s draft.

Simmons offers outstanding mobility and has shown instincts in coverage, especially against tight ends, a talent that all by itself likely has Giants fans hoping the team will call his name in next month's draft.  

“Stopping tight ends and linebackers playing man on running backs is … like the game’s no longer a 250-pound linebacker. It’s more guys that are able to run side to side and are able to cover. It’s just a necessity now with the tight ends and running backs.”

But if anyone’s worried that Simmons, who despite being listed as a linebacker is more of a positionless “jack of all trades” will get bogged down by all the intricacies that come with playing the same positions he played in college at the much more advanced NFL level, don’t be.

“The hardest part about it is just the mental aspect, having to know what everybody else has to do,” Simmons said of his “jack of all trades” label. “That was the most complicated thing I had to deal with. But I learn everything very fast, and I feel like that’s what really benefitted me and helped me play at a high level.”

That learning process, he said, included a classroom set-up at Clemson where the defense’s back seven defenders met in the same room rather than split up into different position meeting rooms. And that exposure helped Simmons put the big picture together rather than attempt to piecemeal the entire puzzle.

Then there is the “doing it” part of the equation. Simmons lined up on the defensive line, at linebacker, corner, and safety. That on-field experience, combined with sitting in the meetings room, helped him put everything together as far as his play speed is concerned. 

When Simmons, who said he hadn’t met formally with the Giants as of Thursday morning, does get to the NFL, he’s confident that defensive coordinators will find a way to use his unique range of talents creatively.

“Mentally, I feel like there isn’t anything I can’t do,” he said. “I played every position except for a nose or 3-technique. When it comes down to it, I’m going to try with my best ability to do everything I can.

“I like an interception just as much as I like getting a sack,” he added.  

At the end of the day, Simmons, who said he plans to do all the linebacker drills at the combine, said if it wasn’t for his family—his parents and his brother-is humbled by the opportunity before him.

“My brother definitely paved the way for me, showed me everything about sports,” said Simmons. “I remember just growing up in the backyard, I would always go play football with him and his friends. I’m five years younger than everybody out there playing tackle football in the backyard. My brother--he’s like my right-hand guy.”

So too is his father, Victor.

“My dad, just because the man he raised me to be. I still talk to him every day, and he still teaches me lessons as if I was a little kid. A lot of respect for both of them.”

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