January 19, 2011

Tech a finalist for Pa. duo

McKeesport (Pa.) head coach Jim Ward has watched two of his 2011 standouts, defensive end Branden Jackson and defensive tackle Delvon Simmons, make their way through a long and arduous recruiting process up to this point. And with only two weeks remaining until National Signing Day, there are still a few wrinkles to iron out for both.

"Branden decided that he's going to visit Colorado the weekend before signing day," Ward said. "They've entered the picture recently, but you never really know how a visit could impact a kid so we'll see what happens. He's down to Texas Tech and Oregon, with that additional visit to Colorado, so he's getting closer to being ready to make a decision."

Simmons has been contemplating whether or not to take his fifth official visit to Florida or USC, and according to Coach Ward, the rumor of Florida's exit from the conversation has been exaggerated.

"I heard that rumor as well and I don't know where it came from. That definitely has not been decided just yet," he said. "USC is very much in the picture for that fifth visit. They had a great presentation to him this week, but Will Muschamp saw him last Friday, and they're supposed to be sending their defensive line coach on Wednesday. So Florida is still there as well."

And as for Simmons' final group?

"Delvon's list is a little more complicated. I'd say he's down to Texas Tech and Oregon, with another choice to make between USC and Florida," Ward said. "North Carolina has also been making a strong push late and I think Butch Davis is supposed to be heading up here soon to see him. Pitt is also making a strong effort here at the end to try to get him. So obviously he's got some decisions to make."

Coach Ward mentioned that Texas Tech assistant coach Robert Prunty is scheduled to be in McKeesport on Thursday. He also indicated that Coach Prunty and Coach Tommy Tuberville haven't been "MIA" when it comes to communication.

"I speak with Coach Prunty regularly, and I spoke with Coach Tuberville last week. They've kept great contact with us and I think they've been some of the best communicators I've dealt with," he said. "They're just great people and all you ask for at the end of the day is for your kids to be with great people. I know what those guys can do for our kids academically, socially, and athletically."

He indicated that both Jackson and Simmons would be making their decisions on signing day.

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