It’s been a long journey for Clarion redshirt sophomore Connor Simmons in his football collegiate football career.
After difficulty finding a school right for him, he finally has found his home, with the opportunity to compete for the starting quarterback positon.
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After making a name for himself after an impressive career at New Palestine High School, in Indiana, winning two conference championships while throwing for 2,900 yards and 35 touchdowns, Simmons first began his collegiate career with a rocky start, only lasting a semester at the University of Indianapolis, an NCAA Division II school.
“I really didn’t like it there,” Simmons explained, “They brought in five quarterbacks my freshman year, so I got out of there after a semester.”
Simmons then tried to find a home, at Erie Community College in New York, an NCAA Division III school.
He fared better, being named team captain and throwing for 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.
But it still didn’t feel right to him, having a tough time adjusting to his then new home.
“It was a culture shock,” Simmons said, “Players I played with were from low income families, and the college itself was a low athletically funded program.”
After a while, Simmons was contacted by Clarion Quarterbacks Coach/Offensive Coordinator, Chris Weibel, and asked him to come for a visit in December 2013.
Simmons then met with Clarion head coach Jay Foster, learning he would have a chance to compete for the starting quarterback position.
“He (Coach Foster) told me I had good size, good footwork, good everything,” Simmons explained, “He wanted me to come in and see what I can do.”
At the time, Clarion had lost then starting quarterback Ben Fiscus for the season. Clarion’s starter became Darelle Carson, who Simmons began competing with in the spring and throughout this season.
“I felt I did better than what I was supposed to do,” Simmons commented on how he thought he did during spring ball, “I picked up the offense pretty quickly, and having come from a Division III school, I thought I did pretty well.”
At the beginning of the season, Carson was named the starter for the season opener at St. Francis.
It wouldn’t go so well for Carson, giving Simmons a chance, and he took advantage.
Simmons led two touchdown drives, bringing Clarion back in the game.
Simmons and Carson then took equal reps against Millersville the next week, which Simmons led the way again.
And finally, Simmons was given the opportunity to start in the next game at Cheyney, leading Clarion to a 27-6 win after a quiet first half.
However, Carson still was given some reps.
Simmons also was given the start on Saturday against Gannon.
He led a touchdown drive, scoring himself on a seven-yard run, but unfortunately didn’t have much success after, as Clarion fell 33-7.
Carson, however, didn’t have much success either.
Its likely Simmons will get the nod again when Clarion heads to Erie to take on Mercyhurst.
The battle with Carson still isn’t over, but Simmons finally has found a school where he fits in, and where he has the chance to be the starting quarterback.