Land of 10 has embarked on a series of “Next Generation” articles, a project that aims to bring our readers greater insight into the class of 2017 signees. Michigan State reporter Luke Srodulski has hit the road to visit this year’s incoming class of freshmen and give you an inside look past Hudl highlights and head shots. Here’s a preview of what will be the fourth installment, this time focused on Ann Arbor (Mich.) Pioneer outside linebacker Antjuan Simmons.
WIXOM, Mich. — Michigan State linebacker signee Antjuan Simmons had already finished his planks for the night, with his Total Sports Wixom trainer Nate Collins pushing his rear to the floor every step of the way.
But as he sat on the edge of a treadmill, gassed, Simmons saw one of his workout partners still struggling to finish his reps. Collins wouldn’t let him stop until he did the brutal core workout to the trainer’s satisfaction. So Simmons got back down on the ground, lifted his knees off the floor and went back into plank position.
“This wasn’t even one of the hard ones,” Simmons said of the speed and agility workout Wednesday, giving it a 7 rating out of a possible 10.
As one of the oldest — and certainly the most vocal — working out at Total Sports, Simmons took it upon himself to not just encourage others, but direct them by example. Forty-yard dashes, 20-yard shuttles, treadmill sprints, you name it: Simmons would step to the front of the line.
— Luke Srodulski (@lsrodulski) March 30, 2017
Sure, Collins would be there every step of the way to correct form and provide insight. But sometimes it’s best to hear it from a peer. Simmons learned that early on.
When Simmons’ father went to prison in 2012, the teen didn’t look for a father figure to fill the void. He took on more responsibility himself. “Did you do your homework?” he would ask his younger brother Dennis every night. Dennis quickly got sick of hearing it, but he also got his work done.
And once he got to Ann Arbor (Mich.) Pioneer High School, Simmons found another calling besides football: special education. Children with cognitive impairments who would not respond well to the teachers would love Simmons’ friendship and guidance.
Simmons has much more in mind for his time at Michigan State than paving his way to the NFL — though that would be nice to help relieve pressure from his hard-working mother. He wants to major in special education and minor in kinesiology.
What does he want to do with that? First off, he wants to continue helping children with special needs. But he also wants to become a coach or a trainer.
Coaching full-time will have to wait until his playing days are over. But if you watch him toss an arm around a friend and let him know how to improve his sprinting form, it’s clear he’s well on his way there already.
For the complete Michigan State NextGen series, click this link.