Ryan Simmons sat in the bleachers, losing it because the high school coach wouldn't put him in the game.
Trouble was, he was in the eighth grade, tagging along with his older brother Aaron to 7-on-7 tournaments.
“Ryan would bring his cleats every single week,” Steele coach Mike Jinks said of the Oklahoma State linebacker recruit. “The first week, we held the games at our place, he was sitting there just bawling.
“He was in the eighth grade, so it was illegal. But he was 6-foot, 200 pounds and looked like a grown man. He was just sitting over there crying, so heartbroken because we wouldn't let him play.”
Eventually, Simmons played. And starred.
As a senior, he totaled a team-leading 179 tackles and earned Associated Press First-Team Texas 5A All-State honors. And Simmons was key to a Steele state championship run.
“And our defense is what won it for us,” Jinks said.
Simmons played in the U.S. Army All-American Game and was back on the field Wednesday — national signing day — playing in the Team U.S. vs. The World exhibition game in Austin, where he faxed in his letter-of-intent from the team hotel.
Simmons could play a factor for the Cowboys next fall at middle linebacker, where Orie Lemon was a senior and the sophomores Caleb Lavey and Tyler Johnson enter spring as the top replacement candidates.
“He is very mature mentally and physically,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said Wednesday. “He comes from a very good program. He's been well-coached.”
Jinks doesn't expect any tears, but he does expect Simmons to make a push to play — and more.
“They're getting a football player in every sense of the word,” Jinks said. “Ryan's a very intelligent player and he's the ultimate competitor. An unbelievable competitor. Along with that, sprinkle in a lot of athleticism. He's just one heckuva football player.”