This is the fourth of a 10-part series detailing potential breakout players for Penn State in 2018. Yesterday: WR Juwan Johnson
When Shane Simmons signed with Penn State over Florida State and a slew of others 2016, the expectations were sky high.
Simmons, a lightning quick pass rusher with great bend and a good first step, was being compared recent star edge rushers such as Von Miller and Shane Ray both for his ability and similar build.
During his true freshman season, Simmons was redshirted in order to add weight and strength to his 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame. Last season, Simmons began to see game action and began to emerge as a situational pass rusher in the middle of the season, recording his first career sack again Michigan State on Nov. 4.
Now a redshirt sophomore and north of 250 pounds without an ounce of bad weight on him, Simmons is ready to announce himself as one of the best pass rushers in the Big Ten.
With the health status of redshirt senior Torrence Brown still up in the air following a severe knee injury, Simmons figures to enter the 2018 season as the second-team weakside defensive end behind Shareef Miller.
Not only has his Simmons improved his pass rushing skills with good technique and hand fighting, he’s also become a very capable run defender who does a great job of setting the edge on plays headed to the boundary.
Since his high school days at DeMatha Catholic (MD), Simmons has always done a great job of playing with leverage, meaning he was able to out muscle or maneuver around much large offensive tackles. Now that he has added size and strength while maintaining his elite quickness, he could well become one of the more versatile defensive linemen in the conference, if not the nation.
Another aspect that should allow Simmons to excel this season is elite physical tools. Penn State coaches have talked often about how they like linemen, both offensive defensive, who have a good frame and good arm length. Simmons has each of these which has allowed him to add 30+ plus pounds without having to worry about putting on bad weight. His long arms allow him to get his hands on offensive linemen before they can do the same to him, a huge asset when rushing the passer.
With more playing time, more confidence and better equipped body, expect Simmons to remind people why he was one of the most highly coveted prospects in the country coming out of high school.