While many teams across the country have already played their first football games of the season, some teams in California have had nothing but scrimmages and finally get to strap the pads on for real this Friday night. Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd four-star strongside defensive end A.J. Simmons is one of those players, and he can't wait to get out there this week.
"We had a scrimmage last week, and I did alright," Simmons, who is 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds, said.
"I have some things to work on. I was playing with an injury I got a couple weeks ago. I got hit in my right knee and it's been swelling up since then. It's getting better now, but I'm fighting through it. We play Alameda this week for our first game. We didn't play well as a team in the scrimmage, but we're going to be alright this week. We've got to get on the same page and pick up the intensity, but we'll be fine.
"We can't wait to get out there and knock some heads."
Simmons said he's been getting his football fix by watching last weekend's action packed games.
"I saw USC-Hawaii, Miami-Florida State, Louisville-Kentucky, Utah-Arizona, and watched a little bit of Memphis-Ole Miss." Simmons said.
"I loved the Miami-Florida State game (on Monday). The hitting in the game was crazy. It was a real up-tempo game. You could tell there was a lot of excitement and energy on both sides. Both defenses are just great."
When he's not getting ready for his game and watching the college teams go at it, he's been talking to college coaches.
"Over the last couple days I've heard from coach (Mike) Bellotti from Oregon, Coach G (Ron Gould) from California, coach (Tim) Kish from Arizona, then a coach from Utah and one from Oregon State," Simmons said.
"I got a visit set up to Arizona. I'm going there October 21st. They looked pretty good this weekend. Their defense is pretty good so they are a good team to look out; a team on the rise. I'm going to Cal on December 16th. Next week I'm going to try to set up a visit to Oregon and Utah."
That would mean that four of his visits would be in line and that a top group of teams is emerging.
"Cal, Arizona, USC, Oregon and Utah are the teams I'm looking at," he said.
"I'd say the top team would be Cal. That's the only school I've been to, and I really like their coaching staff a lot. I've met some of the players and we get along pretty good. Their facilities are good, and I like the fact they're in the Bay area. It's a good football area, because it's never too hot or cold. Plus, it's not far from home so I could have some family support."
But Simmons, the No. 28 player in California, isn't ruling anything or anybody out at this point.
"Distance won't be a factor if I go somewhere and I feel like I really fit in," he said. "Right now, location is pretty important to me, but I may change my mind. I'd like to only be a few hours from home so I have family nearby. But if I go on a visit and I love it and feel at home, I could change my mind."
"I have no idea when I am going to make my decision. It will probably be before signing day. I'd say somewhere near the end of football season."