RENTON — Shane Simmons is the longest of long shots at Seahawks training camp.
The second-year linebacker was only added to the team this week when another reserve linebacker went down with an injury, and he could very well just be keeping a seat warm for first-round draft pick Aaron Curry, who has not yet signed.
Simmons starred for a Division-II college team that has since cut its program — and don’t even get him started on that topic. He has some strong words for Western Washington University administrators: “It’s horrible, it sucks, it’s frustrating.”
Simmons was undrafted out of college, spent a couple of months with Oakland last season before being released, and has been working as a personal trainer at a 24-Hour Fitness in Kent.
“I’m a long shot, but that’s kind of what I’ve always been coming out of Western, I’m used to it,” he said. “I’m a long shot and nobody expects much of anything from me, but hopefully I can just go out and do my thing.”
Even if this stint with the Seahawks is a brief one, Simmons is thrilled to still be on a football field.
“I just love the game of football,” he said. “It’s something I’ve been doing forever. This is what I do, and it’s one of those things where I’ll take every opportunity I can and play as long as I can, and just see where it takes me.”
And to think, Simmons almost gave up on football years ago. Now he’s fighting to stay in the game.
A standout at Kentlake High School, Simmons originally went to Idaho. During his freshman season in 2004, teammate and close friend Eric McMillan was murdered. Simmons didn’t play another game for Idaho. He returned to Kent, and for a while he thought he was done with football.
“That definitely ran through my head,” said Simmons, who prefers not to talk about his friend’s death and that time in his life.
While watching football on TV back home, Simmons started to think about playing once again. His high school coach, Mark Torgerson, was friends with then Western coach Rob Smith, and when Simmons decided he was ready to give football another try, Torgerson called Smith. Smith stopped by Kent on his way back to Bellingham from a recruiting trip in Vancouver, Wash., and Simmons was sold on the Vikings.
“I just got that itch again,” he said. “I went up there and loved it, and that’s where I ended up. And now I’m here.”
And yes, Simmons most likely won’t be wearing a Seahawks jersey when the season starts next month. He knows he’s fighting an uphill battle.
But for someone who almost walked away from football five years ago, just being back on the field with some of the game’s best players is a pretty good reward for returning to football.
“I’m definitely glad I gave it a second chance,” he said.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog