During a group interview session today, sophomore Corey Bell let it slip that coaches have said senior Dextrell Simmons will be getting the starting nod Aug. 31.
Of course, the team has let it be known it will rotate players at the spot (and starts don't always mean more snaps). Still, it's an indication of how Simmons has played this fall.
"Someone in my situation has a small window to make something happen, so I have to make the best of it," said Simmons, who transferred last year from a junior college. "I had a small role this year and a big role this year, so I had to take advantage."
Simmons played in all 13 games last season, making 16 tackles and breaking up two passes. Coaches have described him as a physical force, one that likely will be on the field often in running situations.
"I feel I can do whatever they need me to do," Simmons said. "I'm athletic enough where I'm just not a physical guy. I can cover, I can rush the passer, I can be out there on third downs."
Simmons credited Bell and junior Jonathan Brown for pushing him, saying "if it wasn't for them, I don't think I'd have the drive I do right now."
Bell believes the 5-11, 200-pound senior has become a much more well-rounded player going into his final season.
"He's a physical dude," Bell said. "He's really taken his game to the next level this year. He really studied in the offseason just how to play that position ... I think he's taken that next step."