December 16, 2010

Tech in the mix for Pa. duo

McKeesport (Penn.) defensive tackle Delvon Simmons will be in Lubbock this weekend for an official visit to Texas Tech. Simmons is a teammate of 2011 defensive end Branden Jackson who officially visited the Red Raiders in September, and McKeesport head coach Jim Ward spoke with us about Tech's involvement to this point with both.

"I think in general, for both guys, both of them are very impressed with Coach Robert Prunty and they've been able to build a special relationship with him. He's been different in that it's not always been about football. It's been about life and he's gotten to know our guys that way," Ward said. "It's been an approach that's been unique and it's one that they've both taken to pretty quickly. Those guys are really feeling comfortable with him. I've talked to Coach Prunty on a number of occasions and I really feel comfortable with what Texas Tech could do for those two guys, as well as the rest of our players."

"I treat them just like my own kids and I want them to be taken care of. Everything I've seen and heard from Texas Tech has indicated that they would be treated well if that ends up being their destination."

Both Jackson and Simmons have taken visits together to Iowa, Oregon, and Rutgers, but Coach Ward didn't necessarily describe them as a combo.

"I definitely wouldn't classify them as a package deal. I would say though, that they both like playing with each other and they are very good friends. Both are smart enough to know that their school of choice needs to fit them individually, but if it's something that fits then I could definitely see both going to school together," he said. "I know Branden has certainly talked about that with me recently, and just talked about how he'd like to maybe go to school with Delvon. I know at the end of the day that it's got to be the right fit for each guy. I think if all things were equal, that would be something they'd get excited about if it worked out that they could play together and go to school together."

With Lubbock being over fifteen hundred miles from McKeesport, it's apparent that distance is not a factor in either players' recruitment. That apparently hasn't always been the case with Simmons, however.

"That's the reason why Tech didn't really initially recruit Delvon because he was thinking that he didn't want to go very far from home, while Branden said that he did want to play somewhere far away from home. So Texas Tech got started with Brandon sometime in the spring, and when we got into the summer Delvon started to kind of change his mind and began to think it might be a good idea if he did get away. It became a situation where location was not going to be much of an issue for either guy," Ward said. "When that happened I let Coach Prunty know and of course, Oregon and Iowa came into the mix as well. The first time Tech was able to get out here after our season Coach Prunty and Coach James Willis both got a chance to watch Delvon on tape, and they were both extremely excited with what they had seen."

Red Raider head coach Tommy Tuberville was in Pennsylvania last week for an in-home visit with Jackson on Wednesday. Later that day he visited the school and had a chance to spend some time with Simmons and his family as well. This coming after Oregon head coach Chip Kelly had paid a visit to McKeesport earlier in the week also.

Jackson has taken four official visits so far, while Simmons has taken three. It sounds like Jackson may be done with officials, with Simmons possibly making Texas Tech his last.

"He (Simmons) was going to go to Florida last weekend, but he cancelled that after Urban Meyer resigned. Delvon is playing in the U.S. Army All-American game and he's wanting to make his decision during the telecast on January 8th. So, this visit with Tech would actually be his last one if that time frame holds up," he said. "When he gets back from the visit we'll talk and try to make some sense of what he's seen from each school. Right now he's down to Iowa, Oregon, and Texas Tech, as Brandon is also. They're both down to those three."

"Brandon and I talked about a timeframe yesterday and he wasn't exactly sure. He may want to take that fifth visit in January, but right now he doesn't really have another school that he's wanting to get out and see. I couldn't really speak on a time that he might decide. With Branden it could be next week, or it could be next month. I'm just not sure."

Regardless of what visits may or may not be taken in the coming weeks, it's apparent that both prospects are ready to bring the process to an end. And indications are that Texas Tech is firmly in the mix.

"Delvon is growing a little tired of it like most do. He's probably a little more worn down than Branden is about the process, but I know he's really looking forward to his visit this weekend. Branden enjoyed his when he was in Lubbock earlier this fall, and he's really spoke highly of Texas Tech since that time. Delvon is really excited to see what they have to offer, and I know for sure that Texas Tech is a very legitimate contender in getting both guys in their program."

Aside from Iowa, Oregon, and Tech, Simmons also holds offers from Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisville, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, and West Virginia.

In addition to the same top three as Simmons, Jackson holds offers from Illinois, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, N.C. State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Rutgers, Syracuse, Virginia, and West Virginia.

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