As a Stanford recruit, Brandon Simmons was proud and excited to watch his future team on TV in the Rose Bowl.
In January, Simmons, a highly rated safety out of Mansfield Timberview, was there in person, helping the Cardinal cruise to a Rose Bowl victory.
“It was surreal,” said Simmons, who was one of the first defensive reserves to see the field in Stanford’s 45-16 win against Iowa on New Year’s Day. “I had wondered how it would feel when I watched it a few years before. It took me back when I got on that field, standing on the rose. I definitely enjoyed it.”
Simmons had offers from a long list of teams, including TCU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan and LSU.
“Academics has always been huge in my family, and I’m fortunate to have parents who instilled the importance of academics,” said Simmons, a communications major hoping to develop a career in virtual reality. “When I got that opportunity to go to a place like Stanford with quality academics and great football, I couldn’t pass it up.”
Brandon Simmons recorded 64 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 3 INTs and 4 forced fumbles during his senior season at Timberview in 2013.
After sitting out his first year to learn the defensive systems, Simmons saw action in all 13 of Stanford’s games last season. He finished with eight tackles, including three crucial tackles in a 38-36 victory against Notre Dame.
“I got my feet wet for the first time last year,” Simmons said. “In the redshirt year, you learn schemes and all of that. Now, after playing for a year, you’re starting to see a lot of things like alignments and splits, the small things that go a long way.”
Simmons has played in both of Stanford’s games this year, recording a solo tackle last week as the Cardinal started conference play with a 27-10 win against USC.
“I’m really growing as a player, and my knowledge of the game has really excelled,” Simmons said. “The main thing is to be ready when your number is called. As a safety at Stanford, you are pretty much the quarterback of the defense, calling checks and alerts. I’m preparing as if I’m going out there the first series each game. I know my time will come.”
Stanford has developed a reputation for having a hard-hitting, physical defense. The Cardinal’s secondary play has been especially strong in the past decade, producing players like Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.
“We have a strong tradition, and it was built before I got here,” Simmons said. “We take pride in keeping that tradition going and being a stout defense.”
This week, Simmons and his teammates will face UCLA, a talented team led by sophomore quarterback Josh Rosen.
“UCLA gets down the field really well, and they have great speed on the perimeter,” Simmons said. “Their receivers are really fast, probably better than their receiving corps last year. They are going to stretch the field, so that’s going to be a challenge for us to stay on top of their routes.”