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Signing day at Stepinac

Posted Wednesday, February 02, 2011 by Matt Ehalt- ESPN

Signing Day at Archbishop Stepinac

February, 2, 2011
Feb 2
It’s been a magical year of achievements for Tyrell Goodman and Donnie Simmons. The pair of Archbishop Stepinac senior football players led the school to its first undefeated season and won the Catholic High School Football League’s AA title.

Today, the duo added another feat to an already impressive list: officially signing their letter of intents to play for Division I football programs.

Simmons and Goodman signed their letters of intent to play with Syracuse and Akron, respectively, today at Stepinac at White Plains. The players, their families, coaches and friends of the football program had a small celebration at the school, even though school was cancelled. According to Stepinac head football coach Mike O’Donnell, this is the first time in the past 30 years that Stepinac has sent two players to Division I schools.

“Tyrell and I worked enormously hard,” Simmons said. “He put his whole life into this thing and dedicated himself to football and worked hard, and I did the same thing. Once you dedicate yourself to something, a positive reaction is going to come out and this happens to be it. We both worked hard, both in the books and on the football field, and that means it worked out well.”

While Simmons, a defensive end, and Goodman, a quarterback, are close friends, and both played together on varsity for three seasons, they had different experiences when it came to the recruiting process.

Simmons, ranked No. 7 in New York and the No. 115 defensive end according to ESPNU, verbally committed to Syracuse in June, allowing him to play out his senior season without having to consistently answer questions on where he was going to go. He also considred Akron, Connecticut, Fordham and Buffalo.

The 6-foot 2-inch, 222-pound end had 70 tackles and 10 sacks for the Crusaders this year. When it came to choosing the Orange, Simmons said the warmth and hospitality the university showed him that won him over. He loved the atmosphere on the campus and is excited about the education he will receive. He faxed over his letter at 10:30 a.m.

“This is the type of thing that you dream for,” Simmons aid. “It’s the type of thing that it’s like a feeling of wow, I finally made it.”

Goodman, a quarterback, was a late bloomer in the recruiting process. Despite putting up great numbers during the season, Goodman and O’Donnell had to shop him around to different programs to see if they would be interested. He also had to make sure that his grades were in line to play college football this season.

Eventually, Goodman started getting looks from schools and finally committed on Jan. 24 to Akron. He was also considering Ball State, Temple, Delaware, New Hampshire and Buffalo.

Goodman threw for 1686 yards and 23 touchdowns, while rushing for 1172 yards and 14 touchdowns as he guided Stepinac to a 12-0 record.

“I felt like home here,” Goodman said of Akron. “The coaches welcomed me and things like that. Coach (Rob) Ianello was a Stepinac graduate so that played a big part. I had a great connection there with the players and all of the coaches. That played a big part.”

O’Donnell praised his pair of recruits as they get ready to transition to the next level. He said that Simmons is a player that you will never have to worry about getting in trouble and is just a great kid. The coach added that Goodman has a great future ahead of him and labeled him a “success story” for growing up with some hardship.

“To see them accomplish so much in their lives, both of them come from completely different backgrounds and growing up as people, students, and football players it’s a great honor to see them send their letter of intents out,” O’Donnell said. “It’s a great thing for the school, their families and the community.”

As Goodman looks back on the past three seasons with Simmons, the memories come back to him easily. How they went the process of getting adjusted to varsity as sophomores. Learning how to become leaders as juniors and attacking their senior seasons with zeal.

The two talk all the time and Goodman isn’t afraid to call Simmons one of his best friends. If he ever needs advice, he can just ask the defensive end.

Today, there wasn’t any advice given, though. They were just taking the next step toward becoming scholarship football players by signing their letters.

“It’s a blessing to be in this situation,” Goodman said. “Kids dream to be in this situation, to play Division I football and things like that. I’m just happy to be here with Donnie. We’re very happy to be in the situation we are now.”

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