Syracuse, NY (NCC News) — Skyy Simmons has a passion for football. If his six-foot-four inch, 200 pound build doesn’t give it away, his work ethic will. Simmons ran track on scholarship at Syracuse University.
When he graduated back in 2009, Simmons said he could feel the desire burning inside him to try returning to the sport he loved in high school.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,? Simmons said. “But didn’t always think I was capable.?
He set out to prove himself wrong.
Getting Back Into It
Simmons pursued graduate school at West Chester University of Pennsylvania directly after graduating from SU. He studied public administration – and a lot of football. He played two years on the WCU team, but didn’t get a whole lot of playing time as a transfer and guy who was re-teaching the sport to his body.
After graduating in 2011, Simmons spent the next year training on his own, without an agent. Then opportunity knocked. The New York Giants called and said they needed a receiver. Simmons went to work out with the team but didn’t hear back from them until five months later.
“I felt like I had lost some focus in that time gap,? said Simmons. “When I went to workout with [the Giants], I didn’t perform to the potential that I have for myself.?
After that, he never heard back from the team.
Then, Simmons fractured his foot and had to take a year off.
Staying Positive, Working Through Struggle
Simmons could’ve called it quits right then. But that’s just not like him. He continued to workout on his own and vowed to stay focused.
Simmons used social media to chronicle his trials and errors. He gradually amassed thousands of followers on Instagram and hits on YouTube by posting words of encouragement and homemade inspirational workout videos.
“It really surprised me,? said Simmons. “I get comments and direct messages all the time from people, asking for advice or giving me support.?
Even NFL players. New York Jets cornerback, Darrin Walls, noticed Simmons on Instagram a couple years ago. He thought Simmons was already in the league.
“He definitely has the qualities and characteristics to make it in the league,? said Walls. “Once he gets his shot.?
Walls still keeps in touch with Simmons and has been a supporter of his.
Simmons has used his journey, especially the struggles, to help other people, not just on social media. He’s worked with SU football players on footwork and invited them to workout with him.
“He could have easily been like, ‘I’m out here, by myself blah blah blah. But I see somebody, who’s trying to get better like me,'? said Darius Kelly, strong safety for the Orange. “So [Simmons says] ‘I’m gonna pick him up, and myself and we’ll get through this together.'?
SU cornerback Eric Jackson, feels similarly. “Not even just physically, Skyy has helped me with confidence and believing in myself,? said Jackson.
The drive that Simmons exemplifies is something the guys are able to pick up on and gravitate towards.
“Every day, he’ll send me a Bible quote, just to keep pushing me and keep me going,? said Kelly.
Whether Simmons gets picked up by the NFL or not, he will continue to pick others up by allowing them to share in his journey.