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Dominguez High linebackers Maurice and Marquis Simmons are the youngest of seven siblings to play the position
MELVIN SIMMONS JR. sat in his usual seat, on the wooden bleachers three rows in front of a tiny press box as his sons Maurice and Marquis took the field against Crenshaw ( Los Angeles) last Friday night. He has sat on those same bleachers at Dominguez ( Compton, Calif.) with his wife, Kathleen, for nearly 20 years watching his seven sons play Pop Warner and high school football.
Each of the boys—Melvin III, 26; Marvin, 24; Marlin, 21; twins Marcel and Marcello, 19; Maurice, 17; and Marquis, 16—has played linebacker on the overgrown grass field. "They all like to hit," says their dad, who gave his sons first names beginning with M and middle names beginning with L to honor his father, the Reverend M.L. Simmons. "They've been hitters all their lives."
The two youngest sons have learned valuable football lessons from their siblings. Maurice, a 6'1", 210-pound senior with 4.45 speed, is ranked as the No. 4 weakside linebacker in the country by Scout.com. Last season he had 95 tackles and 13 sacks. "[Playing linebacker] comes pretty easy," he says. "I already know what the coach will call because I've been watching my brothers for so long."
At 6'2" and 225 pounds, Marquis, a junior, is bigger than his brothers were at his age. In 2006 he played nine games and had 65 tackles and nine sacks. "I may be taller or weigh more, but everyone still keeps an eye on me," Marquis says. "They always want to tell me something I'm doing wrong." Maurice and Marquis have orally committed to USC, where they hope to follow in the footsteps of Melvin, a captain of the Trojans' 2003 co--national title team.
All the Simmons boys have won a major championship in high school or college, and Melvin Jr. and Kathleen, a middle school teacher, have equally high expectations for them off the field. Spending most of his time at home since a construction accident in 1988, Melvin makes sure his children—including his four daughters—stay out of trouble. He won't allow Maurice and Marquis to attend a party at a house he isn't familiar with and won't allow guests in their home unless he or Kathleen is present.
"Why would I take them to a party that I can't go to?" says Melvin Jr. "What kind of party is that going to be?"
The Simmons boys are grateful for the support and discipline. After Dominguez won its second straight CIF Southern Section division title last year, Maurice and Marquis gave their championship rings to their dad.
"He and my mom raised us up in football, so when we get a ring, we give it to him as a token of appreciation for always being there," said Maurice after the Dons beat Crenshaw 49--12. "Hopefully my brother and I can give him a few more rings."