Jordan Simmons lives up to the hype

LOS ANGELES -- The hype surrounding last Saturday's Nike Football Training Camp at USC focused on the skill position players. But it was Encino (Calif.) Crespi offensive tackle Jordan Simmons who nearly ended up stealing the show.

At 6-foot-5 and 335 pounds, the ESPNU 150 Watch List lineman got the better of his counterparts across the line of scrimmage in the morning session. And little changed in the afternoon -- Simmons dominated from start to finish and was awarded his position's MVP honors as a result.

"Things went well for me, and that was important because there was a lot of big names at the Nike camp,'' said Simmons, who is in the midst of a mini-break from football-related activities before spring practices begin at Crespi the first week of May.

"I got a chance to see how I measured up against some of the top competition out there, some of the top guys in the country. My goal was to come out and establish my name and move one step closer to becoming the top offensive lineman in the nation.''

Whether that happens remains to be seen at this point.

One thing is certain: Simmons took a step in the right direction.

His one-on-one battles during the NFTC with Watch List defensive linemen such as Aziz Shittu (Atwater Calif./Buhach Colony) and Ellis McCarthy (Monrovia Calif./Monrovia) were noteworthy, to be sure. Their heated exchanges caught the attention of many.

Simmons (Class of 2012) demands similar attention from Division I college coaches and scouts alike. As it stands now, he has scholarship offers on the table from 27 schools, including Auburn, Florida and USC.

"Right now, I'm in the process of building relationships with the colleges interested in me,'' Simmons said. "There are some schools that stand out, and the time for me to cut down my list is coming soon. I think sometime in September I should have a top 10.''

In the meantime, everyone must patiently wait and watch. Nevertheless, all eyes figure to be on him, especially when taking into account his efforts at the NFTC.

"The first thing that stood out to me about Simmons was his skinny ankles,'' said Tom Luginbill, ESPN.com's national director of scouting. "He is nimble-footed and very athletic, given his size. But he is not a tackle, strictly a guard. For a 300-pounder, he moves around nicely and showed a bit of a competitive streak as well.''

Simmons transferred to Crespi, based out in the San Fernando Valley, from Los Angeles Dorsey last season. He made an immediate impact for the Celts. More is expected from him this time around, of course. All signs point to Simmons' being more than capable of living up to the lofty expectations as a senior.

"Jordan is physically gifted. He's the total package," Crespi coach Jon Mack said. "I'm just glad he's on our side and we don't have to play against him on a weekly basis. He's a tremendous drive blocker, gets off the ball great in pass protection, he can do it all.

"We were out at the Nike camp to support him. You saw what he could do, everyone out there saw what he can do. With Jordan, we're talking about a kid who is going to make an impact at the next level right away. He won't have any issues making the transition.''

Simmons didn't have any issues at the NFTC either.

Skill position players, or not, he left a lasting impression.

Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com.