22 Jun Preseason Scouting Notes: T.J. Simmons, WR, West Virginia
RS Senior ︳6’2″, 201 LBS ︳Birmingham, AL
A reliable receiver with solid hands and blocking ability who is looking to become a focal point for West Virginia’s offense in 2020
T.J. Simmons was a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2016 before transferring to West Virginia in 2017, sitting out the season. He averaged a little over three receptions per game in 2018 (Dana Holgerson’s last year) and 2019 (Neal Brown’s first year). However, he made the most of it in 2019 with receiving yards (455) and touchdowns (4). Had a 3-game stretch last October where Simmons totaled 18 catches, 284 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. Simmons primarily lined up at the slot in various personnel groupings, working all short areas of the field with some intermediate routes like crossers and out routes. In the run game, he usually lines up tight to the formation either at a receiver’s normal stance or acts as another H-Back, although there were some instances where he blocked from the slot as well.
– Reliable hands on critical downs
– Shows proper technique when making catch and can adjust to throws to his outside shoulder
– Shows effort when blocking and controls man with good hand placement and leverage
– Displays balance, speed and power to get extra yards after the catch
– Attacking weak points of zone on short routes
Areas To Improve:
– Needs to work on meeting the ball with hands on contested catches
– Will body catch at times in space
– Unknown toughness as to whether he can make catches over the middle with a linebacker nearby
– Limited experience showcasing ball tracking and jump ball ability on intermediate and deep routes
– Consistently creating separation with his upper body before his route break
– Hasn’t seen any opportunities to win on his release vs press
– Lacks effort late in game when not winnable
Suffered leg injury (2019 vs Baylor: left game early, missed next 2 games)
Simmons was a reliable target for West Virginia on the short areas of the field and made plays after the catch in space. He also blocks well, which is somewhat of a lost art among pass catchers, showing control and containing his man in the run game and on screens. Those traits alone could get him drafted, but he’ll most likely be around Day 3 due to some important traits that he must improve upon. Simmons could contribute early as a No. 4 slot receiver for a team that takes advantage of his blocking ability and gives him the ball in short areas of the field and in space so that he can utilize his YAC ability. He’s also fast enough to be used on sweeps and end arounds.
What to Watch for in 2020:
After being in a crowded receiving room in 2018, 2019 was a little more kind to Simmons as he saw the second most targets despite the emergence of redshirt freshman receiver Sam James. Simmons will immediately be the second option for Austin Kendall heading into the season. Showing some improvement on his footwork on cuts in 2019, Simmons could take it a step further this season with incorporating more upper body movements on fakes as he could struggle against quicker, patient cornerbacks on just speed cuts alone. Hopefully we can get a better grasp on his ability to beat press, ball skills and route running at the intermediate and deep levels of the field.