Native son returns home

Kevin Simmonds’ return home was a trip based on perspective. Simmonds said he was happy to return to Tallahassee to play in front of family and friends but wasn’t going to let it cloud his focus.

“It means more because I’m a senior but it’s not that big of a deal,” Simmonds said. “I don’t want to get out of my game plan.”

The 1999 product of Lincoln High has emerged as the go-to guy for Howard University this season.

Entering Saturday’s game against FAMU Simmonds was the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference leader in receptions (27), yards per game (87.5) and tied for the league lead in touchdowns with six.

It was his first game in Tallahassee since high school. He missed the 2000 game against the Rattlers due to a ligament sprain. That injury forced him to miss the last seven games of that season.

Despite not being recruited by FAMU out of high school, Simmonds said he has no hard feelings toward FAMU.

“I figured if they didn’t want me somebody else would,” Simmonds said.

Simmonds said his success this season is due to his off-season preparation. This summer Simmonds worked out with teammates for five days a week to gain more muscle.

“It’s all about discipline, will and time management,” Simmonds said. “It’s paying off for me now.”

Like most student athletes, Simmonds can relate to time management. The computer information student has also been productive in the classroom. Simmonds held a 3.0 gpa during the 2001 season and already has received job offers from several large corporations.

His dedication to academics can be traced to his genes. Both parents are employed by FAMU. Simmonds’ father, Keith, is a political science professor and his mother, Avis, is a special coordinator.

“I’m very happy for him,” Keith Simmonds said. “He’s turning out to be a nice surprise.”

Before Simmonds contemplates those offers he will likely get a chance to play in the NFL.

Bison head coach Rayford Petty said Simmonds has been the team leader since spring practice and his work habits have rubbed off on the rest of the team.

Petty added that NFL scouts have been on campus to watch film and they like what they see.

“He’s 6’4 with speed,” Petty said. “He has the talent to get to the NFL.”

Bison quarterback Donald Clark said Simmonds’ emergence has made it easier for him as a passer.

“He has taken on a leadership role and is a student of the game,” Clark said. “I trust him to be in the right spots. All I have to do is sit back, relax and throw the ball.”