After months of going through the rigors of the NCAA Division I recruiting process, the border war battle to land mammoth East St. Louis offensive lineman Tre’vour Simms officially came to an end on Wednesday.
The 6-foot-5, 290-pound Simms is officially a member of the University of Missouri football program after signing his NCAA national letter of intent during a ceremony in the East St. Louis High School library.
Simms, regarded as one of the top offensive linemen in the Midwest, gave a verbal commitment to attend Illinois last summer. But the chance to play with several former Flyers teammates, as well as possibly contend for a Southeastern Conference championship, proved to be among the deciding factors for Simms, who also excels academically.
“It was a a really hard decision. And actually I made up my mind yesterday afternoon. On one hand you had Illinois and on the other was Missouri. Two great schools,” Simms said. “I had to make my mind up and it was Missouri. There are some former teammates there and who will be there and yes, that played a factor in me choosing Missouri.
“I liked the idea of playing college football with my old buddies and seeing if we can maybe win a championship. I’m going to be playing guard there so it will be a chance to play a lot and early.”
I liked the idea of playing college football with my old buddies and seeing if we can maybe win a championship.
East St. Louis’ Tre’vour Simms on picking Missouri
Simms is one of five current or former Flyers football players who signed letters of commitment on Wednesday.
Also signing were defensive backs Stanley Green (Illinois) and Markeith McGarry (Scottsdale, Ariz. Junior College). Former Flyer Greg Taylor, who has spent the last two years at Hinds (Miss.) Junior College, signed with Missouri. Former Flyers running back Natereace Strong, who has also been at Hinds, also signed with Missouri and will be reunited with Simms.
The signings of Simms, Green and McGarry is a well-deserved end to what turned out to be a very difficult and disappointing season for the Flyers program in 2015. Ranked among the state’s top teams despite a 3-2 record, the Flyers were forced to forfeit their final four games of the season because of the East St. Louis School District 189 strike.
East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett said he’s happy and proud that these three players will have a chance to continue their education and fulfill their athletic and academic dreams.
“It was great to have the opportunity to coach these guys these last few years and they were a part of our success,” Sunkett said. “We’re sorry about how the season ended for these guys but that was out of our control. The big thing for me right now is trying to get a few more of these guys signed. But it’s tough because we didn’t have enough film of them to send out so they (the college) coaches can evaluate them.
“So our work is still in the process. We’re still fighting for two or three of these guys to get signed yet.”
One player Sunkett and the Flyers’ staff doesn’t have to fight for is Simms. A three-year starter, Simms was ranked as one of the top offensive lineman recruits this season.
“Simms is a great football player,” Sunkett said. “He’s a kid who has never missed a day or practice and he comes from a great family and has great support. I kept hearing that he was going back and forth between Illinois and Missouri and I guess he made one of those late night decisions.”
(Simms is) a kid who has never missed a day or practice and he comes from a great family and has great support.
East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett
Like Simms, the 6-foot 190-pound Green still had doubts about which school he would be attending until Monday. Still considering Iowa State, Arkansas State and New Mexico, Green said the final choice came down to Illinois, a school, he had verbally committed too midway through the 2015 season.
“It was Monday morning when I finally decided that Illinois was where I was going even though I had committed to them earlier. I just sat down with my family and we discussed it all out,” Green said. “ Academics come first. But to play college football is a dream come true. And to get a chance to play in the Big 10 Conference ... I believe in (Illinois) coach (Bill) Cubit and I believe that he has the program headed in the right direction.”
Green was credited with 51 tackles, including 38 solo tackles this season for the Flyers. Green said he is comfortable playing at either the free safety or at cornerback for the Illini, a team that once included former Flyers star Terry Hawthorne.
“I played safety and I played cornerback in high school,” Green said. “It doesn’t matter where I play at Illinois. Wherever they need me.”
Sunkett said Green took some visits to different schools, but he stayed true to form.
I played safety and I played cornerback in high school. It doesn’t matter where I play at Illinois. Wherever they need me.
The Flyers’ Stanley Green
“Stanley is a player who committed to Illinois midseason and while I know he took some visits, I think he was pretty well sold on Illinois,’’ Sunkett said. “He’s another great kid with very good family support. He can play the corner or the safety and I think Illinois has a real winner with Stanley Green.”
Both Taylor and Strong attended Hinds Junior College after exceptional careers at East St. Louis. This season at Hinds, Taylor, a defensive back, played in nine games with 53 tackles, while the 6-2, 205-pound Strong gained 105 yards on 15 carries while playing in two games.
Sunkett added that the 2017 recruiting season has already begun. In speedy wide receiver Jeff Thomas, the Flyers have one of the top high school players in the country. Alabama and Ohio State are just two of the big time programs interested in Thomas.
“Name a school and they’re recruiting Jeff,” Sunkett said, smiling. “I don’t think Jeff will decide until signing day next year.’’
Defensive back James Knight has an offer from Western Michigan and quarterback Reyondus Estes also has received some significant interest.