Ole Miss had already interested Tim Simon long before the Cordova, Ala., running back/athlete ever set foot on the University of Mississippi campus.
A few hours in Oxford closed the deal.
"When I went up there, it was my first time and everybody was friendly," Simon said Monday afternoon following his team's practice in advance of Friday's first-round playoff game against Montgomery Academy. "I got along with all of the players and all of the coaches and I just liked the atmosphere up there.
"I was real impressed with how everybody was. I thought it was going to be like every other college I go to. I was impressed how they came up and talked to me and knew who I was already without having a name tag on or anything."
Simon checked out the campus, met with the Rebel coaching staff and watched Ole Miss beat Auburn, 17-7, on an unofficial visit. Two days later, Simon pulled the trigger and gave a verbal commitment to Ole Miss. He chose the Rebels over Alabama, Kentucky, Clemson and others.
"Ole Miss got involved with me about a month ago," Simon said. "Every week, they called and I've been talking to them ever since. Other schools called every two weeks. With Ole Miss, you could tell they really wanted to talk to me. They called every week and they really impressed me, so I went with my best choice."
Simon is the Rebels' 13th commitment for the 2009 signing class. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound, three-star prospect boasts 4.4-second speed in the 40-yard dash. Auburn, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Marshall, and UAB had also extended offers.
Simon was ranked in the preseason by Rivals.com as the No. 22 prospect in Alabama and the No. 45 running back prospect in the country. Several schools consider Simon a future linebacker.
Simon, however, wants to play running back at the college level. Already this season, he's rushed for 1,600 yards and 28 touchdowns, averaging 12.5 yards per carry. As a junior, Simon rushed for nearly 2,000 yards and 34 touchdowns, leading Cordova to the 3A state championship. In the title game, he rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns and was named the game's most valuable player. Simon was also named first-team All-County, All-State and was one of only two juniors chosen to the Alabama Sports Writers Association's Super 12 list. As a ninth-grader, Simon rushed for more than 1,500 yards in only eight games. He followed up that campaign with a little more than 1,900 yards and 23 touchdowns.
"Tim is a big, strong, fast kid who would rather run over you than around you," Cordova coach Scott Basden told Rivals.com earlier this season. "I have been lucky to have coached some good backs like Tony Dixon at Parrish (who eventually played at Kentucky). All of them have been different in style. Tim is a typical SEC-style running back because he has speed and power. He is not a one-trick pony."
Simon said he's "more of a downhill runner, not shifty. I like to try to run folks over."
Simon was impressed with Ole Miss' strong running game against Auburn. That, combined with Houston Nutt's reputation for developing running backs, only helped seal the deal.
"They're real good at running the ball," Simon said. "Coach Nutt has put a lot of backs in the NFL, like (Darren) McFadden and all of them. I know he's going to showcase his backs, and that's what I kind of want to do."
Simon's commitment came just one day after unbeaten Alabama moved up to No. 1 in all of the major polls. So, Simon's commitment to the Rebels came as a bit of a surprise to classmates at the central Alabama school.
"They're also proud of me too," said Simon, who recently re-took the ACT and is in good shape with his core curriculum. Simon, who is being recruited by Ole Miss offensive line coach Mike Markuson, said he plans to take an official visit to Oxford after the season. His mind, however, is made up.
"I think it's a program on the rise," Simon said. "Most coaches, in their first year, don't win many games. Coach Nutt has come in and he's beaten Florida and upset Auburn too. That's real good in most people's cases."
RebelSports.net's Dave Childers contributed to this report.
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