After what was likely his final game in a Clemson uniform, Isaiah Simmons felt the need to show Tiger fans how much he appreciates them.
So, while walking off the field at the Superdome following Clemson’s 42-25 loss to LSU on Monday night in New Orleans, Simmons shook hands with as many of the fans as he could and blew kisses to the crowd as he walked into the tunnel.
“Pretty much just wanted to thank them for being the best fan base in the nation,” Simmons said after the game. “They show up, all types of weather, no matter how far we’ve got to travel. So, I really just wanted to thank them for all their support that they’ve had.”
Simmons, a versatile junior linebacker and 2019 Butkus Award winner, is projected to be a high first-round pick in April’s NFL Draft. While Simmons is widely expected to forgo his senior season and declare for the draft, he has not yet announced his plans.
“Just pray about it, sit down with my family and see what’s best for me,” he said of the decision-making process.
Simmons was honored with the seniors on Senior Day at Clemson before its Nov. 16 win over Wake Forest, and really seemed to soak everything in toward the end of the season.
Although the Tigers saw their 29-game winning streak come to an end Monday night, the Olathe, Kansas, native enjoyed competing with his Tiger teammates for probably the last time.
“At the end of the day this game, it doesn’t write out who we are as a team, who we are as a program,” said Simmons, who recorded seven total tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss and a pair of pass breakups in the national title game. “I know what kind of year we had together. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed this game, just being out there with my guys, some of the guys that are leaving. I just enjoyed it all with them. We had a great group of seniors, along with the juniors that are going to surpass their last year. But it was great. I just really enjoyed myself.”
Simmons described the mood in Clemson’s locker room following the conclusion of the 2019 campaign.
“At the end of the year it’s always emotional, regardless win or lose, because those are some guys that you may have become really, really close with throughout your years in college, and you’re parting ways,” he said. “It’s not like you don’t go see them every single day anymore, watch film with them, practice, lift – things change. So, it’s always emotional, win or loss. The loss definitely made it hurt more. Nobody wants to go out like that, obviously. But I would say it was more tears of joy than tears of sorrow. Because like I said earlier, we know what we did together as a group.”
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