The 50 most important college players in Texas in 2017 — No. 42: Prairie View’s Joshua Simmons
AS THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON EDGES CLOSER, WE TAKE A LOOK AT THE MOST PIVOTAL PLAYERS FOR EACH PROGRAM'S RESPECTIVE SUCCESS.
The importance of a player is not always defined by their skill level. The most important player on a team or in a unit is not always the best player on a team. This list is designed to breakdown the 50 most important players in Texas college football for the 2017 season. It is not a ranking of the 50 best college football players in the state. Importance can be defined by position, need, skill or leadership. We’ll count down the list through the summer, all the way to No. 1.
50 – Lamar DE Daniel Crosley / 49 – TCU WR KaVontae Turpin / 48 – UTEP QB Ryan Metz
47 – UMHB RB Markeith Miller / 46 – Sam Houston State DE PJ Hall / 45 – Baylor WR Blake Lynch
44 – Texas Tech WR Jonathan Giles (transferred) / 43 – Texas Tech RB Justin Stockton
Joshua Simmons made a name for himself in his first season with the Panthers, taking advantage of his time in a variety of roles to account for more than 700 all-purpose yards and three total touchdowns. His ability to rack up yardage in a hurry helped Prairie View A&M to a 7-2 conference record, and the junior was named the Newcomer of the Year in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Simmons, who attended Houston Yates High School, was not highly recruited and eventually ended up attending Navarro Junior College before joining Prairie View A&M. He had 441 yards and seven touchdowns receiving in 2014 while averaging 22 yards per kickoff return.
There is no question that speed is what makes Simmons such a special athlete. Simmons competes in the open 100m and the 4x100m relay for the Panthers track team, showing just how quick the senior to-be is. Whether it’s catching a pass in space and making something out of nothing or making plays in the return game, Simmons has a lot of explosiveness in both aspects of the game. As a return specialist, he can flip field position, which has helped to set up an offense that averaged a little bit less than 33 points per game last season.
The Panthers offense relied a lot on its passing game last season, but will have some significant holes to fill this year. Simmons is one of only two receivers returning with significant experience from last season, as Prairie View A&M will have to replace Demarquo Lastrappe and Khadarel Hodge this season. Simmons will see an increase in touches in the passing game, while his impact in the kick return game will continue to be a major factor this season. With quarterback Trey Green out of the picture and Jalen Morton taking over full-time, Simmons’ game changing ability will be key to keeping the Panthers’ offense at the level it’s played at over the last few seasons.
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Brady Keane is a Contributing Writer for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Follow him on Twitter: @BradyKeane.