Against All Odds: the Todd Simmons Jr. Story


It’s said that everyone loves an underdog – but Todd Simmons Jr., a 2023 NFL draft prospect, wide receiver, and college athlete with a dream, the reality is much harsher.

“I was told that I could never make it to the NFL without attending a Power Five school,” Simmons shares, referring to colleges and universities that participate in the Power Five conferences, the most prominent and highest-earning college football athletic conferences in the US. “I wanted to prove them all wrong.”

Simmons is from Washington, DC, and started playing football at the age of 13. “I played basketball for 6 years and hated it,” he recalls. “I always really wanted to be a football player.” He graduated from the Avalon School, a small private all-boys Catholic school. In high school, he played football with Trevon Diggs, now the cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys.

His first position was as a quarterback; then he moved to wide receiver, and started quickly securing scholarship offers from schools like Howard University, Delaware State, Morgan State, and Bowie State. “I knew I could play at an even higher level so in high school, I took a preferred walk on offer to the University of Maryland,” says Simmons.

He then attended Charleston University, and his first year, he was mentored by Michael Strachan, who is now the wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts. Simmons transferred to JUCO to seek a Division 1 opportunity in Kansas, at Independence Community College. This was at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Simmons faced both accomplishments – like earning 8 Division 1 scholarships without playing a single season due to shut-downs – and struggles.

“One of the biggest challenges I had to face was when I was in Kansas,” he says. “It was very hard. There were times when I didn’t have access  to food at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. I also lost one of my close friends there in a drowning accident. JUCO was a struggle, and I had to keep myself motivated to make it through.”

He did graduate, and transferred to Wagner College. “That’s where I played my very first season at the Division 1 level,” he shares. He recalls how difficult it was climbing the ladder from Division 2 and JUCO up to Division 1. During this time, he marketed himself to hundreds of schools via social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Tiktok. Simmons captured the attention of well-known athletes like Cam Newton, Dawayne Haskins, Torrey Smith, Chad Johnson, and Trace McSorlet. Simmons was also featured in Cam Newton’s new Netflix series.

Some of his notable career highlights include earning 15 full ride scholarships throughout his high school and college football career; being ranked as a 2-star JUCO wide receiver prospect; and being ranked in the top 15 2022 All Conference honors. He also got 3 Pro All-star game invites, and in 16 games over 2 seasons, he had 68 receptions, 901 yards, and 8 touchdowns.

“Always know your ‘why’ and stick to plan A,” Simmons says of his successes. “Never let anyone tell you what you can’t accomplish.” He sees himself succeeding in his goal to become an NFL draft pick and enjoying a successful NFL career. He’s already looking into sponsorship contracts with noted brands, and would like to start a non-profit designed to help other underdogs just like him make it to whatever league in which they choose to play.

Simmons has a unique tenacity to reach for the NFL without a Power Five school behind his resume. “The resilience I have and the faith it takes to push forward as an athlete is what I feel makes me different,” he says.

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