The wait is nearly over for Shane Simmons.
The 2004 Kentlake High graduate, who spent the last three years playing football at Western Washington University, is likely to get selected during this weekend’s NFL draft. The draft will take place at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The first two rounds are today, and the final five take place on Sunday.
“I’m just excited, ready for it to be here, to be honest,” said Simmons, a star quarterback/defensive back in high school, but who was shifted to linebacker at Western Washington. “It has been a long time coming.”
It has been even longer since Western Washington has had a player selected in the draft. Matter of fact, the last Viking to be chosen was defensive end Dave Weedman in 1968, a 12th-round pick by the Washington Redskins. According to several NFL draft web sites, Simmons is projected as a late-round pick or a priority free agent.
Kentlake, which opened its doors in 1997, has never had a player selected in the NFL draft.
“I wouldn’t say I am a lock, but it’s looking pretty good,” Simmons said.
In high school, Simmons made a name for himself more as a quarterback than as a defensive stopper, combining for 1,694 yards rushing and passing his senior season, to go along with 19 touchdowns in leading the Falcons to the state playoffs.
But it was Simmons’ defense in college that ultimately put him on the national map.
As a sophomore in 2005, his first season with the Vikings after transferring from the University of Idaho, Simmons earned first-team Great Northwest Athletic Conference accolades after registering 66 tackles and five sacks. As a junior, he was the national leader in solo tackles (9.8 per game). He continued the pace this past fall as a senior, leading the North Central Conference in tackles per game (12.5). He also ranked fourth nationally among NCAA Division II schools in total tackles and was ninth nationally in solo tackles (6.3).
Now, however, it all comes down to this weekend. If all goes as expected, Simmons should be chosen sometime Sunday afternoon between the third and the seventh rounds.
But don’t expect the former Kentlake star to be waiting next to his computer or lounging around watching television waiting for his name to be announced.
“I’ll be doing yard work or something and have my cell phone charged up in my pocket all day long,” he said. “I will try and stay away from the TV as much as possible.”
Simmons has been contacted by the Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, among others. He also has worked out for several NFL teams, including the Seahawks. However, to date, San Francisco has shown the most interest, Simmons said, flying the linebacker down for a meet-and-greet and a walk-through of the organization’s facility.
“It’s been surreal,” Simmons admitted.
Simmons isn’t the only local product at Western Washington University with NFL dreams these days.
Former Kentwood star Ryan Conwell, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound defensive lineman who helped lead the Conquerors to back-to-back state titles in 2001 and 2002 and who roomed with Simmons as a junior, currently is getting some looks.
But not on defense, where Conwell recently earned second-team North Central Conference honors. Instead, Conwell has been scouted for his long-snapping ability.
“I tried out for the Seahawks during their local player tryout (in early April). It went pretty well,” said Conwell, who was a first-team All-South Puget Sound League North Division selection his senior season in high school after collecting 78 tackles, including 13.5 sacks. “They like my size, weight and speed. They said they were going to talk about it and, hopefully, will get back to me.”
While with the Vikings, Conwell, a 2003 Kentwood graduate, was named the team’s Defensive Lineman of the Year his junior and senior seasons.
And though his days at Western Washington are over, Conwell still aspires to play in the NFL like his uncle, Ernie Conwell, a tight end who most recently played for the New Orleans Saints before suffering a knee injury.
“I never thought long snapping would be the way I would get in. But I always dreamed of playing in the NFL after watching my uncle get in,” Conwell said.
Conwell won’t be selected today or Sunday, but hopes to hook on as a free agent in the weeks following the draft.
“Even getting looked at by the Seahawks is a great honor,” he said. “My agent is supposed to call me sometime this week and let me know what it looks like.”
ON THE CLOCK
WHAT: NFL draft.
WHERE: Music City Radio Hall, New York City.
WHEN: Today (rounds 1-2) from noon-8 p.m.; Sunday (rounds 3-7) from 7 a.m.-4 p.m.
ON THE WEB: You can follow the NFL Draft on www.nfl.com.
ON TV: Both days will be broadcast live on the NFL Network. ESPN will carry the draft from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, then ESPN2 will pick up coverage from 5-8 p.m. ESPN will carry the draft on Sunday from 7 a.m.-3 p.m.