Written By: Nick Holmes (@HoosierHolmes)
Today marks the start of the 2015 College Football Season, as if you did not know. However, we still have two days left until the Hoosiers take the field for their season opener against the Salukis. This is my final entry into this season's Countdown to Kickoff. I started with a junior standout on the defensive side of the ball, Darius Latham, and I'm ending it in the same fashion with standout junior linebacker T.J. Simmons. This team possesses a ton of potential in their front seven on defense and Simmons is a big reason for that due to his experience and ability.
Starter since first setting foot on campus back in 2013, Simmons has been one of the Hoosiers most consistent contributors on the defensive side of the ball the past two seasons. As a true freshman he started in all 12 games, recorded 68 tackles with one sack and 3.5 tackles for loss. Season highs included a couple of nine tackle performances against Indiana State and Navy. When the season came to a close the Lakeland, Fl. native picked up multiple honors including CollegeFootballNews.com Freshman All-American honorable mention, ESPN Big Ten All-Freshman team and honorable mention BTN.com All-Big Ten Freshman team.
During his second year in the Cream and Crimson he posted 72 tackles, with two sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss, forced two fumbles and had a fumble recovery. He shined in multiple games throughout the season, recording a career 13 tackles against Bowling Green and was awarded with the Terry P. Cole award for his outstanding performance against the Boilermakers, an award given to Indiana's most valuable player in the Old Oaken Bucket game, after posting seven tackles and forcing and recovering a fumble.
Simmons has been a mainstay on defense the past two seasons and will undoubtedly be a key contributor the next two seasons as well. This team is focused on making it to a bowl game and beyond this fall, and for that to happen the defense will need to make some strides against both the run and pass. Simmons, along with the many other veterans in the front seven will need to elevate their game to another level if this team is to reach its goals this season. All indications so far, teams around the Big Ten better be on upset alert when they meet up with Hoosiers this fall.