Elkhart Elk Signs with NSU

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

ELKHART – Located at the foot of the Ozark Mountains, Northeastern State University (NSU) located in Tahlequah, Oklahoma is the oldest institution of higher learning in the Sooner State.

On Wednesday, Feb. 7 NSU added a little East Texas flavor to its rich legacy when the Elkhart Elks’ Johnathan Simmons traded in the red, white and blue of EHS for the green and white of NSU.

Following the signing, pictures, hugs, handshakes and even a few tears from family members, the newest NSU RiverHawk sat down to discuss his decision.

Asked how he came to choose NSU, Simmons said they stuck by him after a season-ending injury on the gridiron during the Elks’ 2017 campaign.

“I tore my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) during the third game of the season. They kept the offer on the table, they stuck with me and they never gave up on me. They didn’t take the offer away and that meant a lot to me,” Simmons said.

As far as his rehabilitation from the injury, Simmons said everything was going well.

“I’m working my way back, slowly but surely,” he said. “It’s going to be a great comeback, at least I hope so.”

While Simmons was a standout running back for the Elks, he was equally as effective in the defensive backfield. As a result, Simmons explained he was recruited as a safety.

Listed at 6’1 and 175 pounds, Simmons said he would like to try his hand in the NSU receiving corps if he could but stressed “… right now, I’m going to concentrate on being the best safety I possibly can.”

In regard to any advice he might have for his Elkhart teammates, Simmons said it was all about the hard work.

“You have to work hard and put 100 percent of your effort into things. You have to put in the work and keep your grades up as well,” he said.

On the road to his signing, Simmons said he was pushed to success by his parents and the Elkhart coaching staff.

“It has always been my dream to play college football, but my coaches and parents were always there to encourage me and push me towards success,” he said.

While Simmons will be on the defensive side of the ball, comparisons to a former Elk on the offensive side of the ball were inevitable.

“I look up to Jeffery (Wilson) a lot. When I was in eighth grade, I would come up to the high school to talk to him and watch him work. His work ethic is great.”

Wilson is scheduled to participate at the NFL Combine later this month.

“I want to thank my great teammates. I want to thank my O (offensive) line, my parents and my coaches. But, I really want to thank the Man above. Without Him, nothing like this would be here for me,” he said.

“This feels good. It feels right,” Simmons added. “I plan on going up there and making a statement.”

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.