Donnie Simmons paves way for fellow Stepinac grad, URI lineman Dwayne Scott

first_imgIn 20 years at Archbishop (New York) Stepinac High School, Mike O’Donnell had never had a player offered a scholarship before his senior season.That was until Donnie Simmons, a 17-year-old speedy defensive lineman, grew into his frame and started garnering early interest from colleges. Simmons received an offer from Akron and also attracted Ohio, but ended up committing to Syracuse before playing his way to all-league and all-state honors as a senior.“Donnie helped put us on the map more of being a football program and since then, more and more kids are going to play in college,” O’Donnell said. “Since then, we got kids to want to come to the school because of the level of football we’re playing. I think Donnie was a pioneer for us.”Of the kids who’ve benefited since Simmons graduated in 2010, one will play his first college game against Simmons and Syracuse when Rhode Island visits the Carrier Dome at 7 p.m. on Friday. Dwayne Scott, a freshman offensive lineman for the Rams, was a standout at Archbishop Stepinac and was inspired by Simmons and his state championship-winning team.And while it’s unlikely that Scott will see the field and find himself blocking Simmons — who is expected to be a Week 1 starter for the first time in his five-year career — he’ll be in the same building as the player who helped pave his football future.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“We always said it, ‘We want to be like that 2010 team,’” Scott said. “It’s hard to put into words how good they were. We knew it and guys like Donnie, he pushed us to put in work.”Simmons and Scott are completely opposite players. At 6 feet, 2 inches and 264 pounds, Simmons uses speed around the edge to mask his small frame for a defensive end. At 6 feet, 2 inches and 304 pounds, Scott uses strength first and is always polishing his athleticism. Simmons’ goal is to run around players. Scott’s goal is to hold them in front of him.But their high school selves shared the common goal of playing college football, and Simmons visited White Plains, New York during breaks and told Scott and his teammates what the experience at Syracuse was like. The training, the facilities, the competition — Scott and his teammates sat around the weight room and listened intently to Simmons’ stories.Then Simmons would work out with the team, and Scott saw what it took to be a D-I football player.“Any time you get to work with a college player and you’re in high school, it can only make you better,” Scott said. “When Donnie came back to work out those times, you saw what it took.”On Friday, Simmons’and Scott’s paths will converge before they go entirely separate ways.After redshirting as a freshman and then missing all of 2013 with a torn ACL, Simmons sees 2015 as his chance to finally prove what he can do. Scott, on the other hand, is joining an offensive line that returned four starters and seven players with college playing experience. It will be the beginning of the end for Simmons, and the beginning of it all for Scott.For both of them, it all took root with Simmons’ success.“I tried my best to lead the way, so others could implement that same mindset to achieve great things,” Simmons said. “Not just staying at one level, just going for that highest peak and the best of your ability.” Comments Published on September 1, 2015 at 10:59 pm Contact Jesse: jcdoug01@syr.edu | @dougherty_jesse Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more