Jeff Sims spent Monday back home in Florida. For the first time in a while, he has a long-term plan.
The former Georgia Tech quarterback has already brought his belongings back from Atlanta in boxes. He was living out of luggage for much of his three weeks in the transfer portal, taking visits to Nebraska and Cincinnati while fielding interest from other interested schools and navigating final exams.
Sims completed his biggest test last weekend when he decided his future would include the Huskers. He and his uncle, former NFL receiver Mike Sims-Walker, called NU coach Matt Rhule and his staff with the news, which the QB announced Sunday.
“They were pumped up,” Sims told The World-Herald on Monday. “They were very excited. They were like, ‘Let’s get this thing rolling.'”
The former star at Sandalwood High School in Jacksonville and son of a Christian minister would have never guessed his next chapter would be at Nebraska. Not after a high-school recruitment that began with a commitment to Florida State as a four-star 2020 prospect and a late shift to Georgia Tech after a coaching change. He had no connection to NU before he entered the portal Nov. 28.
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But he knew Nebraska was big-time football, and wanted to see for himself when the offer came. A tour of campus and the immaculate facilities confirmed this was a place that cared. When Rhule and offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield followed up in Atlanta after his Dec. 9 visit, the three discussed what the next few years would hold. Sims heard enough to cancel scheduled Zoom sessions with other programs.
“It was the rich tradition of Nebraska,” Sims said. “I took my visit out there and it surprised me — it was very nice. I like the coaches, I like the vibe of the program. It was a good feeling. Just talking with coach Rhule and coach Sat, I feel like they have a plan. They’re excited about the future and their main goal is to develop players and that will lead to winning. That stood out to me.”
Sims said the NU offense under Rhule will be pro-style and balanced. His arrival sets up a potential competition between incumbent Casey Thompson — the 24-year-old has one more season of eligibility should he choose to use it — and Sims, who has been a starter for three campaigns at Georgia Tech before his 21st birthday.
Sims has two seasons left to play, plus an available redshirt. Despite injuries that cost him chunks of the last two years, he said he’ll be “ready to go” for spring workouts. The spring status of Thompson, meanwhile, is unclear following offseason shoulder surgery. NU is currently set to have six scholarship QBs on its roster including Logan Smothers and Chubba Purdy, although future attrition is probable.
Arkansas quarterback transfer Malik Hornsby also visited Lincoln after Sims and remains uncommitted.
“Obviously I’m going to go in there and have to compete — I would have to do that anywhere,” Sims said. “So I’m excited to meet the guys and build relationships with them. Compete with them and learn everything I can from them and teach them things that I know.”
The incoming quarterback is far from a rookie. He has thrown for 4,464 yards, 30 touchdowns and 23 interceptions during his 25-game college career while rushing 277 times for 1,152 yards and 11 scores. He arrived out of high school with just 195 pounds on his 6-foot-4 frame but has since reached a weight of 220 he wants to maintain.
Highlights of his big arm and explosive speed are all over social media. The next step, he said, is consistency on the field. Note the interceptions. Note all the games watching injured from the sidelines.
“I feel like mentally I’ve grown a lot and I’m always working to get faster and stronger physically,” Sims said. “So just the intangible pieces of a true NFL quarterback is what I want to work on to put it all together.”
Recruiting services used to label him a dual-threat QB. Sims considers himself “a pass-first guy who has the tools to run.” Health and the structure of the Yellow Jackets offense didn’t always allow him to show it. The career 57.5% passer is also open to the developing influences of Rhule and Co., who molded similarly-skilled quarterbacks at Temple (PJ Walker) and Baylor (Charlie Brewer).
Sims will arrive on campus next month as a new guy at a new place with a new coach. He’ll grind under the urgent reality that his dream — an NFL career, like his uncle — is on the line.
“My strength as a player is going out and giving it everything I’ve got whether it’s running the ball or throwing the ball,” Sims said. “I really feel like I can do it all, so going out there and doing everything I can to put my team in the best position is the goal.”
Nebraska football 2023 commits
Dwight Bootle, CB, Miami, Florida
Benjamin Brahmer, WR, Pierce, Nebraska
I am excited to announce that I am officially committing to the University of Nebraska. I want to thank God for blessing me. I want to thank Coach Ruud, Coach Beckton, and Coach Frost for believing in me. I would like to thank my parents, grandparents and sisters for their support. pic.twitter.com/oozxpywt8j
— Benjamin Brahmer (@BenjaminBrahmer) April 2, 2021
Jaidyn Doss, WR, Peculiar, Missouri
Brock Knutson, OL, Scottsbluff, Nebraska
Hayden Moore, LB, Aurora, Colorado
Dylan Rogers, EDGE, Cypress, Texas
Riley Van Poppel, OL, Argyle, Texas