Rugby World Cup
This Week's Issue
Life of Reilly
SI for Women
CNN/SI - TV
Golf Pro Shop
MLB Gear Store
NFL Gear Store
SI FOR KIDS
INSIDE COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Posted: Wed November 12, 1997
Anthony Simmons first entered the Hall of Champions at Clemson on the day before a 1994 South Carolina high school championship game at Memorial Stadium. A wiry linebacker from Spartanburg, S.C., Simmons walked the Hall's spit-shined wood floors, stared at the massive trophies honoring the Tigers' 1981 national-championship team, noted Clemson's rich linebacking tradition and imagined being part of that history.
The next afternoon Simmons had 20 tackles in helping Spartanburg High to the title. Two months later he signed with the Tigers, and he has been knocking opponents stiff in Death Valley ever since. You can look it up in the Hall of Champions.
With 18 tackles in a 29-20 overtime win over Duke last Saturday, the 6'1", 230-pound Simmons, a junior inside linebacker, is third on Clemson's career list with 446, including 44 tackles for a loss in 33 games. He also had two sacks against the Blue Devils, giving him 14.5 for his career. A first-team All-America last year, Simmons is one of 10 finalists for the 1997 Butkus Award, and he is expected to become the first Clemson player to earn All-ACC honors as a freshman, sophomore and junior.
"Every player wants to be able to say, 'I left my mark here,'" says Simmons, whose Tigers are fifth in the nation against the run. "Now I can tell my children and grandchildren, 'Go see for yourselves what I did.'"
As a freshman in 1995 Simmons earned a starting job after just five days of practice, thanks to his speed, strength and almost freakish ability to burst toward the ballcarrier. He finished the season with 150 tackles, including three earthshaking stops during a goal line stand against North Carolina State, and became the first defensive player ever to be named UPI's national freshman of the year. Even then Simmons was being favorably compared with Clemson's most celebrated linebackersNFL veterans Levon Kirkland and Ed McDaniel, '81 Tigers captain Jeff Davis, and Wyndie Wyndham, who in '50 knocked out three Missouri running backs on consecutive plays.
This season Simmons has averaged a tackle every 4.0 snaps. "He's the greatest pure hitter I've ever seen in college," says Reggie Herring, the inside linebackers coach for the 6-3 Tigers. "Against Maryland he hit a guy so hard on the goal line it was like a cannon had gone off."
After Simmons and the Tigers held Florida State to 31 yards rushing on Sept. 20the Seminoles' lowest output in eight yearsBobby Bowden hoped out loud that Simmons would leave school early for the NFL. The Seminoles' coach will very likely get his wish this spring, as Simmons has already accomplished what he set out to do at Clemson. "When Anthony arrived, he wanted to be like the great linebackers who came before him," says Tigers coach Tommy West. "Now our younger linebackers want to be like Anthony Simmons."
Issue date: November 17, 1997
Copyright © 1999 CNN/SI. A Time Warner Company.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.