East Lansing — When Mark Dantonio announced a day before national signing day that he was stepping down as Michigan State’s head coach, it came as a surprise to many.
None more, it appears, than running back Jordon Simmons of McEachern High in Powder Springs, Georgia. He is a three-star recruit with an impressive offer list who had committed to Michigan State and wasn’t two weeks out from his official visit.
The move by Dantonio forced Simmons to back off and delay his signing.
“Due to the unforeseen retirement of Coach Dantonio and after discussing things with my family, I have decided to delay my signing with Michigan State University until further notice,” Simmons posted on Twitter.
With the hiring of Mel Tucker on Wednesday, there’s now optimism Simmons might still end up a Spartan. Contacted by The Detroit News late Wednesday, Simmons said he liked the hiring of Tucker and said he expects to talk to the Michigan State coach soon.
Simmons and his family know Tucker well. He listed Colorado — Tucker was the Buffaloes' head coach in 2019 — as one of his finalists in the recruiting process. Simmons’ brother, Tyler, was a wide receiver at Georgia when Tucker spent three seasons as the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator.
When Simmons delayed his signing, he said Michigan State was still being considered. In the meantime, he continued hearing from MSU assistants, as well as a handful of programs around the country.
He didn’t give a timetable on when he would make his decision, saying only that, “it will be soon.”
As a senior in high school, Simmons ran for 1,093 yards while averaging better than 7 yards per carry with 16 touchdowns. He also had 259 receiving yards with a touchdown. As a junior, he gained 1,107 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns.
Michigan State signed one other running back in the 2020 class, three-star Donovan Eaglin of Manvel, Texas. It’s a position of need for the Spartans after three players — Connor Heyward, La’Darius Jefferson and Weston Bridges –— entered the transfer portal during the 2019 season.
That left Michigan State with just three scholarship running backs — Elijah Collins, Anthony Williams and Brandon Wright — all heading into their sophomore seasons.