Jamarko Simmons can't want to prove the scouts wrong 6-2, 232 4.5 in 40, anyone know

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    Jamarko Simmons can't want to prove the scouts wrong
    by Graham Couch | Kalamazoo Gazette
    Thursday April 23, 2009, 7:00 AM

    Jill McLane Baker
    Former Western Michigan University standout Jamarko Simmons hauls in a pass during the Broncos' Pro Day in March.Former WMU star eager to prove NFL talent evaluators wrong

    KALAMAZOO -- Jamarko Simmons has been here before.
    At least he thinks so.

    He's the underdog again. Unappreciated. Disrespected.

    For some reason, his 6-foot-2, 232-pound beast-like frame, 4.5-second 40-yard dash time and record-setting production in college isn't enough to make him an elite NFL prospect.

    If Simmons is worried a few days before this weekend's NFL Draft, it doesn't come across in his voice.

    Again, though, the former Western Michigan University receiver does have all of the above attributes working in his favor.

    "I think it makes me more hungry, that even though I put up good numbers, it's not good enough," Simmons said. "I've been the underdog my whole life."

    Until recently, one could argue some of that was self-inflicted.

    Nobody at Western Michigan ever doubted his physical abilities. It took Simmons growing up to realize them.

    But, this time, after breaking Greg Jennings' school records for catches in a season and in a career, after decimating the defensive backfields of Illinois, West Virginia, Missouri, Florida State and others, Simmons might have a point.

    He's not getting the Jennings treatment. Not even close.

    Simmons is a projected seventh-rounder by many and others don't have him being drafted at all -- puzzling analysis to those who have seen him at his best, including his college coach and his mother.

    "I've been asking him how he feels about it," Simmons mother, Sandra, said. "He's been saying, 'All I want to do is get in there and show them what I can do, show them that I'm better than they thought I was.

    "I think he likes the shock factor of it -- 'You guys thought I couldn't do it, but I can.'"

    Simmons doesn't just think he can make an NFL roster. He reckons, at some point, he can carry an NFL franchise.

    "I feel I'm a top-five receiver (in the draft)," said Simmons, who has lived up to many of his lofty forecasts in the past (though 'Bring on USC' before the 2007 season wasn't one of them). "I might not run a 4.2 or 4.3, but I feel I have the best hands in the draft, the best body in the draft, the highest upside in the draft.

    "A lot of teams like the speedy stuff, but speed only lasts so long. My opponent knows I'm coming back every single play. ... My opponent knows I'm coming with 110 percent every time. I want to bring that to another level."

    Those who know Simmons best liken his game to Arizona Cardinals star receiver Anquan Bolden. The similarities in body type and speed make it fair comparison.

    But Simmons sees himself as potentially another Cardinals wideout, the one who found stardom in last season's playoffs.

    "I always look at myself having the hands of Larry Fitzgerald or, a guy I've trained with, Greg Jennings," Simmons said.

    Jennings and tight end Tony Scheffler were seniors at WMU during Simmons' turbulent redshirt freshman season. While Simmons was sulking, though, he was paying attention to the two future second-round draft picks.

    "I do think Greg was a big influence on me. Tony Scheffler, too," Simmons said. "Seeing the things these guys did, not even just in practice, but after practice, giving it there all ... it helped me out."

    Simmons' more recent preparation included Scheffler's heir apparent, fellow NFL Draft hopeful Branden Ledbetter. The two lived together over the winter while training at TEST Football Academy in New Jersey. There, Simmons slimmed down about eight pounds from 240, his weight in the Texas Bowl.

    He did so as Ledbetter tried to gain 30 pounds.

    "I'd see him eat all this ice cream and pizza," Simmons said. "'Just let me get a bite, ah man.' But I knew I had to do this for my future. I feel a lot lighter, a lot faster."

    That future includes his 2-year-old son, Jaylen -- another source of motivation for an already motivated man.

    "Hopefully, I'll be able to take care of my family," Simmons said of the lifestyle an NFL paycheck affords. "And my son will be able to take care of his family and on down the line.

    "Nothing is guaranteed. That's the motto I live by. If I get drafted in the seventh round or go free agent, I'm still going to give it my all.

    Special teams, slot receiver, wing back, H-back -- whatever the coach needs me to do, I'll do it."

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