WORCESTER, MA – They say the longest interview of a person’s life is when they make the push to become a professional football player, and for NFL hopeful, Scott Simonson, it’s also been one that’s left him full of emotion.
“The best way to describe [what it feels like] is getting ready to play the biggest football game of your life,” said Simonson. “You’re not nervous but you get that feeling in your stomach. It’s that calm before the storm feeling.”
In second grade, Simonson, along with his 20 classmates, were asked what they wanted to be when they grow up. Just like his friends, he wrote down the same thing, ‘professional football player.’ As the years went on, those dreams began to fade for his friends – but not Simonson.
“When I go back and look at that yearbook, all I can do is think of everything that’s got me to this point,” admitted the Red Bank, NJ native. “I’m just truly blessed to be in this position I am, knowing the decisions and sacrifices both my family and I have made."
One of those decisions came this past November, when Simonson made what he called “one of the toughest" he’s ever had to make when he opted not to return to Assumption for his final semester of college and instead put full concentration on becoming a professional football player.
“It was difficult leaving my friends and not being able to enjoy the final semester of college with them,” admitted the 6’5 250 lbs tight end. “But aside from the difficulties of trying to to balance school, the deciding factor was I didn’t feel that the facilities at Assumption gave me the best chance to prepare myself the way I needed to make a true run at it.”
While his Assumption friends prepare to graduate next Saturday, Simonson has worked vigorously, attracting heavy interest from both the Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions.
“Both teams talked to me prior to the draft this week letting me know they’re going to do their best to draft me so I can experience that feeling of having my named called,” explained Simonson. “If things don’t workout that way, they told me to be prepare for a phone call as soon as the draft is over to sign as a free agent.”
While Simonson admits it'd be special to see his name appear on the bottom of his television later today, he explained the goal is much bigger than that.
“I’d be lying to you if I didn’t admit how cool it’d be to see my name [on TV] next to the team that selected me,” Simonson said. “But just because you get drafted doesn’t mean you’re definitely going to make that team come September. At the end of the day I just want to play football and prove to any organization that gives me shot that I’ll do whatever it takes to make them a better team. If that means being signed as a free agent, then so be it.”
Four years ago, Simonson, never imagined he’d have the chance to play in the NFL. As a matter of fact, after his junior season in high school, Simonson was ready to hang the cleats up for good after grueling injuries and setbacks the three previous seasons.
“I didn’t want to play football anymore,” admitted Simonson. “I was frustrated with how my first three years went and wasn’t happy with my playing time.”
Instead of taking the easy way out, Simonson emerged through grit and determination that summer in order to make the most out of his final high school opportunity. With his father by his side providing positive support, Simonson believed that he could play football at the next level – even if he only had one full season of varsity football experience.
“My father always told me he could see [my potential] and kept pushing me to stick with it,” said Simonson, whose father’s name is also Scott. “He would constantly remind me that ‘my time would come’ and I believed him.”
Despite not attracting the attention of FCS and FBS schools coming out of high school, Simonson emerged as one of the elite tight ends in DII football at Assumption. In 2013, Simonson was named to the Don Hansen's Football Gazette Division II Honorable Mention All-American Team and led his squad with 39 receptions for 604 yards and five touchdowns.
“I learned a lot playing at Assumption,” said Simonson. “Some people overlook it because it’s division two and don’t think there’s any talent there but I don’t agree with that. Obviously there’s better competition in FCS and FBS, but there’s plenty of players in division two that have talent that just didn’t show it in high school.”
As the rounds go bye today, Simonson will begin to prepare to watch in his living room with close family and friends in hopes to receive the biggest call of his life.
“I’ll be keeping an eye as the draft gets deeper,” admitted Simonson. “Just like my agent, I’ll be doing research online to see what the numbers are like for certain teams with the amount of tight ends and keeping that phone close to me.”
Regardless of the outcome, Simonson said he’ll have no regrets and is truly blessed for the opportunity to chase his dreams.
“My father told me whatever happens I should be proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish thus far,” said Simonson. “When you have support like that from family and friends you realize you’re not letting them down if things don’t go as plan, but rather showing them it’s alright to dream big.”