Chase Simmons said he was going to do it. And he did.
Not just in terms of the North Myrtle Beach defensive lineman’s commitment date, but how he got there.
Simmons stayed true to himself and his word by announcing he would sign with Coastal Carolina University next month. It was the individual payoff for five months of an insane off-season workout regiment, a senior season that attracted college offers from as far away as Ohio and his big role in a defense that has kept the Chiefs undefeated and preparing for a second-round playoff game.
Not even a family situation that forced a drive back from Alabama that began before the sun rose Thursday was going to prevent him from staying true to his word.
“It was already planned. Today was the day I said I would be committing,” said Simmons, who picked the Chanticleers over offers from Georgia State, Charlotte, Akron and Kent State. “I already knew what I was thinking.”
And what he’s thinking now is that staying home for college football sounds pretty darn good. Doing it for a team currently ranked in the national Top 25 polls made it a little sweeter. The Chanticleers put all that on Simmons’ plate with an offer and then a steady diet of contact.
Simmons, meanwhile, put so much on his plate that Coastal would go that far.
After playing as a junior between 210-215 pounds, he cut down to 182 pounds for wrestling (he finished as the state runner up again after doing so at 170 pounds as a sophomore). From that point on, though, doing what it took to play college football became the priority. That meant putting all that weight, and then some, back on his 6-foot-4 frame.
Between the end of wrestling season and July — a span of less than five months — Simmons added 68 pounds. It was a combination of mass amounts of chicken, beef, rice, pasta, vegetables and fruits and a twice-a-day workout regiment that kicked into high gear during the COVID-19 school closures. Simmons and his step-father utilized a home gym and some outdoor equipment, wrapping it all around the grub.
“That cat was eating 8,500-9,000 calories per day before quarantine,” North Myrtle Beach coach Matt Reel said. “He put in the work. Those are all conversations we had with him. What’s it going to take to get some looks from some of these guys?”
Said Simmons: “It’s just committing to the plate. A lot of guys work out, but they don’t eat. It’s about what you’re putting in your body. I knew what I had to do. I worked out seven days a week. I knew I had to put on weight. If I wanted to play at the next level, I had to pack the weight on.”
Reel said that Simmons mixed in enough yoga and flexibility along the way to prevent stiffness, and once the season started, the next phase of his recruitment really began.
“Once he did get that weight on and change himself into what he is now,” Reel said, “it was getting back in touch with who he was talking to previously and letting them know he wasn’t the same creature he was six months ago.”
They obviously liked what they saw after.
Heading into Friday’s playoff game against North Augusta, Simmons has put up 14.5 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, a fumble recovery, a forced fumble and a pass break-up. He can play at either the end or tackle position, the latter a product of the weight gain, and colleges were thinking of that versatility when they offered him this summer and fall.
That part of the process is now over.
And Simmons can celebrate. He might get a bite to eat.