‘The right fit’: Four-star LB Antjuan Simmons picks MSU

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Antjuan Simmons

Farmington – Antjuan Simmons said there was no pitch to be made – Michigan State was simply where he fit.

With that, the four-star linebacker from Ann Arbor Pioneer announced on Saturday that he was committing to playing for the Spartans, giving Michigan State its first top-10 in-state player this season and become the 18th member of coach Mark Dantonio’s 2017 recruiting class.

“It was never a pitch. It was just the right fit,” Simmons said at Total Sports in Farmington, where he announced his commitment. “They weren’t trying to sell anything to me. It wasn’t, ‘This is where you need to be,’ or anything like that. It was, ‘This is us. This is what we do,’ and I fit in it.”

Simmons (6-1, 215), who decommitted from Ohio State, is ranked the No. 1 outside linebacker in Michigan and No. 22 at his position nationally by Scout.com.

Simmons played through a variety of injuries in 2016 but still managed 73 tackles and two interceptions. As a running back, he also rushed for 433 yards on 73 carries. He was named to The Detroit News Dream Team.

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“It’s just a great situation,” Simmons said. “Great people in the program, the academics are great. They have both of what I want to do later on in life -- special education and kinesiology. (Strength coach Ken) Mannie, coach Dantonio are the right people in my corner to push me to the next level.”

Simmons said he dealt with nearly every coach on the staff and even though he had committed at one point to Ohio State, he remained in contact with the Spartans coaches and never forgot they were one of the first teams to show interest.

“I’ve always really, really liked Michigan State,” Simmons said. “They were one of the first schools to start recruiting me. I always loved the people within the program.”

The commitment from Simmons could be the start of a big weekend for Michigan State as several committed players and targeted players are on campus for official visits as the Feb. 1 National Signing Day gets closer.

Simmons said he’s planning to get back to East Lansing on the weekend of Jan. 28-29 when the basketball team hosts Michigan. In the meantime, he’s kept in close contact with fellow Ann Arbor commit Hunter Rison of Skyline High, and other members of the class.

“Me and Hunter are pretty cool,” Simmons said. “We’ve spoken quite a few times talking about me coming to Michigan State before. Hunter is a real cool guy.”

Simmons said the plan is for him to remain at outside linebacker when he gets to Michigan State, but it will depend on numbers and how he feels as he works into the program.

It also didn’t hurt the Spartans that they were close to home, something that was a key factor as Simmons was also considering Ohio State, Notre Dame and Arizona.

“It was (a factor) more than people thought,” Simmons said. “I took a visit to Arizona and there were like no Midwest guys. So I was like, I just didn’t know anybody. It played into it a lot. Plus my mom wants to be able to come to my games, and my family. If I was on the West Coast they’d be able to come to like one game a year and that’s it.”

And as for Michigan State’s 3-9 season, that meant almost nothing to Simmons.

“Of course it’s tough to see being a home guy and seeing the home team struggle a little bit,” Simmons said. “But over the past five or six years (Dantonio) has won like 55 or 60 games. So it’s nothing to worry about.”


Twitter @mattcharboneau