POSTED: Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 12:20pm
UPDATED: Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 6:51pm
Al Simmons has been appointed UTEP’s new safeties coach, head coach Mike Price announced on Thursday. Simmons takes over for Adam Gonzaga who recently departed for a position at Ohio Northern University.
“I’m very excited. It’s great to be at UTEP working with coach Price and coach [Andre] Patterson,” Simmons said. “I’m familiar with a lot of the guys on this staff, having coached against them in the past. It’s a great environment to be in, and I love the players we have in place. There’s great potential here and I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”
“We’re very fortunate to have Al Simmons with us,” Price said. “He’s just a tremendous, tremendous coach. He’s really experienced. He is the guy that we go to when we ask questions about pass patterns or secondary play and what to do. We had him in a year ago and he schooled us up on coverages. We just had him in again a month ago to review what we’re doing this year and to look at our tapes. I have known him for 20 years. He has coached at every level. He’s a great recruiter. He recruits the Inland Empire in California. He is one of the best defensive coaches in the country and for us to get him here is huge. I can’t tell you how excited I am. I think our players and coaches will learn a lot from him.”
Simmons brings 25 years of coaching experience, including 23 at the collegiate level, to the Miners. Most recently he served as defensive backs coach at California for three seasons (2008-10), with additional responsibilities in the special teams area. The Golden Bears led the Pac-10 in total defense in 2010, yielding 319.1 yards per game. Cal was first in the league and third in the country in interceptions in 2008 (24). During the 2008 and 2009 seasons, Simmons coached All-American Syd’Quan Thompson, who currently plays for the Denver Broncos.
He was Cal’s cornerbacks coach from 1998-2000. Simmons also coached at his alma mater, Cal State Hayward (defensive backs coach, 1986-87 and defensive coordinator, 1988-93), San Francisco State (defensive coordinator & defensive backs coach, 1994), Montana State (defensive backs coach, 1995-96), Idaho State (defensive coordinator & defensive backs coach, 1997), Oregon State (defensive backs coach, 2001-02), San Jose State (cornerbacks coach, 2005) and Arizona State (co-special teams coordinator & cornerbacks coach, 2006-07). He spent two years on the San Francisco 49ers’ staff in 2003 (cornerbacks coach) and 2004 (defensive backs coach). Simmons also served internships with four NFL teams – the Los Angeles Raiders (1993), Arizona Cardinals (1996), San Diego Chargers (1999) and Dallas Cowboys (2000).
Simmons coached a pair of All-Conference performers at Montana State in Omar Turner and Jared Lucero. He coached an All-American safety, Trevor Bell, at Idaho State. During his first stint at Cal, he helped the Golden Bears lead the Pac-10 in total defense in 1999 while finishing second in 1998. He coached a slew of future NFL players in Berkeley, including All-Americans Nick Harris & Deltha O’Neal and Chidi Iwuoma. While at Oregon State, Simmons coached All-American Dennis Weathersby and Terrell Roberts, both of whom went on to enjoy professional careers.
Simmons’ protégés at Arizona State included first team All-Pac 10 player Justin Tryon, who is currently with the Indianapolis Colts. He was also instrumental in the development of kicker Thomas Weber, the 2007 Lou Groza Award winner.
A 1987 graduate of Cal State Hayward with a degree in Business, Simmons added a master’s degree in Athletic Administration and Sensory Motor Skills from the school in 1991.