Three Saturday’s from today the Mountaineers will take the field in Charlotte vs the Tennessee Volunteers for the season opener. Also taking the field and making his Mountaineer debut will be wide receiver T.J. Simmons. Simmons, known as the “Alabama transfer” will be eligible after being forced to sit out the 2017 season due to NCAA transfer rules.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen said a year ago that if he was eligible he would be starting. Holgorsen has not been the only coach that has been raving about him, receiver coach Tyron Carrier loves what he sees from Simmons. “He’s physical. He’s my motor out there. He brings the energy every single time. You know what you’re going to get snap after snap with T.J. He’s going to give you everything he’s got until he can’t give it to you anymore,” Carrier said.
Simmons has pretty solid size as he is listed on the roster at 6’2″ 196 lbs, but the speed he carries along with that frame is what makes him so dynamic. Any receiver that carries traits of being physical and elusive makes for a potential go-to guy.
Before his career is over in Morgantown, I truly think he has all the tools to bring the school’s first Biletnikoff Trophy if David Sills V or Gary Jennings Jr. do not get to it first. He could easily become the team’s 2nd or 3rd best receiver as early as this season.
Something that has been missing for quite some time on the offense has been ‘swagger’. Tavon Austin and Kevin White were truly the last guys that not only made a bunch of plays, but did it in a flashy manor that let you know about it. This is something Simmons will bring back to the team, “He has a motor in his legs and his mouth, he don’t shut up and I like that. He is probably the emotional, physical guy that I need,” stated Coach Carrier.
You might ask yourself, can he get enough touches to be recognized for the Biletnikoff in 2018? And the answer would be yes. A year ago David Sills V was the third leading receiver on the team and was named a finalist. The quote unquote third go-to target last year was Ka’Raun White, who finished the season with 61 receptions 1,004 yards and 12 touchdowns. So, if Simmons becomes at worst, the third option, he will still have the numbers to be included in the discussion.
A lot of attention will be focused on the ‘proven’ products in the system such as David Sills, Gary Jennings and even Marcus Simms. If teams double down on any West Virginia receiver another one can light them up just as easily. The last guy in this offense you want to leave alone in man to man coverage would be Simmons. He can blow by corners, and make those in the secondary whiff on attempting to rattle him to the ground.
Simmons is a competitor and you can see it on the field at practice. He comes from a winning culture in Alabama and has brought that with him to Morgantown. He was a part of the 2016 national championship team in Tuscaloosa, so he knows what it takes to get to the next level. Mark it down now, T.J. Simmons will go down as one of the best wide receivers in West Virginia football history.