When Victor Simmons was a freshman defensive back at Kansas, he received some advice from a group of outgoing seniors. They told him to savor his four years — that the time would disappear in the blink of an eye.
Simmons, an Olathe North graduate, listened to the message. But even then, it didn’t quite resonate. So earlier this month, Simmons found himself smiling as he passed along the same message to this year’s Kansas freshmen.
“I’m telling them the exact same thing I brushed off when I was there age,” said Simmons, now a senior linebacker at Kansas. “It’s just kind of funny.”
On Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium, Simmons will join the rest of the KU senior class for their final home game, a 2 p.m. matchup against No. 5 TCU. Even amid the turmoil and change of the last four seasons, as many as 20 seniors will be honored on the field before the game. For Kansas, which stands 3-6 overall and 1-5 in the Big 12, it’s a considerable exodus, one that leaves questions for the future — no matter which coach takes the reins next season.
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But for seniors like Simmons, it’s the final home chapter in a volatile career.
“I don’t want to get too emotional,” Simmons said. “I’m trying to treat it like any other week.”
Simmons, a former option quarterback at Olathe North, began his career as a safety under former coach Turner Gill. He moved to the nickel position after the arrival of former coach Charlie Weis, and then transitioned to linebacker as a senior. By now, though, interim coach Clint Bowen doesn’t even know how to fully describe Simmons’ role. He can cover tight ends, rush the passer, even drop into coverage over the middle.
“I don’t even know what his position is half the time,” Bowen said. “He’s been valuable in that we’ve been able to use him in so many different roles, and he kind of fits that package.”
Last week, Simmons finished with two sacks during Kansas’ 34-14 victory over Iowa State, including a strip-sack fumble recovery that essentially iced the game in the second half. For Simmons, the moment was a reward for his patience and hard work.
In the past few weeks, Simmons began to realize his college football career was coming to an end. If he needed a reminder, though, he could find it back in Olathe. His younger brother, Isaiah, a junior standout at Olathe North, has a scholarship offer from Kansas and has begun to take recruiting calls from the same coaches he talked to four and five years ago. It doesn’t seem possible that his younger brother is thinking about college, he says. But then again, it doesn’t seem possible that he’s a senior.
“I’ve been through what he’s going through,” Simmons. “I’ve talked to the exact same people that he’s talking to. So I can kind of tell him some tips and what’s going to come.”
No. 5 TCU at Kansas
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Where: Memorial Stadium, Lawrence
Records: TCU 8-1, 5-1 Big 12; KU 3-6, 1-5
Radio: KFH, 1240-AM, 98.7-FM
TV: Fox Sports 1