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No Glitz and No Glamour; Just Football
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January 31, 2005 - Tallahassee, FL-His record-setting seasons as quarterback at Shanks High School were good enough for Clemson to recruit him in 1999. During the four years that followed, Willie Simmons played an entire season with the Tigers, made a brief stop at Florida A&M and played at The Citadel.

That followed some looks by NFL scouts. No one was interested. Simmons couldn't help feeling a little unappreciated.

"The more I sat at home on Sundays and watched (football)," Simmons said, "the more I felt I could do the same thing as some of those guys."

Simmons has his opportunity now, although not in the NFL. He and four other area players will play professional football beginning in the spring. They signed last weekend with the Sioux City (Iowa) Bandits of United Indoor Football.

The deal materialized after a conversation between Tallahassee sports manager Sam Carter of Hot Recruiters, and Bandits owner Bob Scott. Nineteen players showed up last Saturday for a one-day combine, Carter said.
The other players who signed with the Bandits are former Lincoln defensive back Larry Williams, defensive back Alex Ardley of Rickards, linebacker Herman Samuels of Godby and Cori Johnson, who played receiver at Gainesville Buchholz.

They will join the team in late February for the first season of UIF play in the North Division. The league is made up of 11 other teams in three other divisions, including teams in Mississippi and Alabama.

The Bandits didn't disclose the players' salaries, but Simmons said he doesn't mind playing for "a few hundred dollars" per game.

"I'm just going to go out and play football and have a little fun again," he said. "This is an opportunity for me to get back and play for the reason I love to play - not for the glitz, the glamour."

Carter said he'd been trying for seven years to get professional teams to take a second look at local players who were passed over by pro scouts. Bandits coach Jose Jefferson conducted the camp.

"There are some outstanding players there and with three major colleges there's got to be some guys who've fallen through the crack," Jefferson said in a telephone interview. "I was thrilled to death to come over there.

"I think a lot of those guys can play at our level. These are guys who can go out and play some more football."

Simmons is convinced of that. Moving to Iowa comes at the cost of giving up his job as a substitute teacher in Gadsden County.

"I feel like it's a second chance," said Simmons, 24. "I believe the Lord has blessed me to be able to go out and pursue my dream.

"It's not a dream that I'm going to chase until I'm 27, 28 years old. I'm just going to give it my all. If I can't, I'm not going to hang my head."

*This article courtesy of the Tallahassee Democrat

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