La Plata’s Jvon Simmons thrives on versatility

Hired as La Plata football coach in April, Seth Pettit finally stopped by the Charles County school in late May to meet his players for the first time.

“Just so they could see that I’m not a ghost or some mythological figure,” Pettit joked. “I really exist.”

Coming from Montana, Pettit got a late start with the Warriors, but even before he settled in after a cross-country move, he’d studied up on enough game film to be excited about working with Jvon Simmons.

At 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, Simmons has the athleticism to play a wide variety of positions, offering the new coach the chance to get creative on both sides of the ball in his debut season with a squad that went 1-9 last fall.

The rising senior has offers from Toledo and Appalachian State, with both schools projecting him at a different position, and hopes to land more from the list of schools with which he remains in contact, including Maryland, East Carolina, Delaware and Towson.

“I don’t want to just be somebody that’s always doing the same thing every play,” Simmons said. “If they want to use me as a tight end, then I’ll work on blocking. If they wanted me to play running back, I think I’d be able to do that. On defense, just put me anywhere.”

Last year, Simmons played in an H-back role that allowed him to move around the formation, finishing with 27 catches for 437 yards and five touchdowns. He also recorded a team-best five interceptions from his “rover” position on defense, acting as a hybrid outside linebacker/safety.

During his summer workouts, Simmons focuses on his pass-catching skills but also devotes time to blocking in the trenches if he’s called to line up as a tight end or blocking back.

Pettit, 29, plans to put that versatility to use, especially on offense where he will handle play-calling duties.

He led a co-op team made up of players from Plains and Hot Springs high schools in Montana from 2007-2009 before a break that included a year serving in Iraq with the National Guard. Those teams fielded a max of 33 players and had to travel up to five hours for league games but made the state playoffs in his final season, in large part because of a multiple formation offense that kept opponents guessing.

“When you have an athlete like [Simmons] you can’t stuff him in a box: You’re a running back or a wide receiver or whatever,” Pettit said. “You just get him out [in space] and give him the ball and let him do what he can do.”

Simmons said he’d be open to playing any position at the next level but would lean toward offense if given the choice.

Toledo offered a scholarship last summer as an outside linebacker and Appalachian State, which offered after a camp late last month, wants him as a field-stretching tight end. He also has an offer to play offense from Division II Notre Dame College in Ohio.

Rated a two-star recruit by Rivals.com, he stayed busy on the camp circuit this summer, an important element of his recruitment given his school’s lack of football pedigree. The Warriors posted a 3-17 record in his first two varsity seasons and have not appeared in the state playoffs since 1994.

Simmons said he won’t rush an oral commitment, holding out hope of more offers with a strong start to his senior season.

“I have to do more,” said Simmons, who will attend camp at Delaware on Saturday. “Be more explosive, more physical, just do more if I want to get the same attention as the people who are winning championships and playing at private schools and stuff like that.”

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