I've saved one of the best, and perhaps most important, of Mike Leach's known hires for last. Dennis Simmons comes to Washington State from East Carolina, where he coached the outside receivers under head coach Ruffin McNeill. Like the rest of the assistants on the offensive side of the ball, Simmons is part of the family, having been with Leach at Tech from the beginning.
Interestingly enough, Simmons didn't transition into an on-field role until near the end of Leach's tenure at Texas Tech, coaching the receivers in 2008 and 2009 before leaving to take the same position at East Carolina in 2010. Prior to his on-field job, Simmons worked as Leach's chief of staff for two years, a position Dave Emerick will assume with the Cougars, and handled other off-field responsibilities, including recruiting and quality control.
But given the chance to shine while working with the receivers, Simmons excelled. Yes, he had the benefit of a superb receiving corps, headed by Michael Crabtree, but his work with the personnel group as a whole was outstanding. The Texas Tech wide receivers turned in jaw-dropping numbers under his leadership as the Red Raiders passing attack excelled.
Leach and Simmons clearly have a long-standing relationship and built-in trust, having worked closely together at Texas Tech. As we've mentioned before, it's a common theme throughout his offensive staff, which does resemble somewhat of a family.
Two interesting notes from his bio at East Carolina:
Simmons' '08 group, led by Crabtree's 97 receptions, 1,165 yards and 19 touchdowns, accounted for 31 of the team's 47 receiving touchdowns. The 31 scores by the wide receivers alone were more than 107 Division I teams' total receiving touchdowns a year earlier.
In 2009, he, along with inside receivers coach Lincoln Riley, transformed walk-on Alex Torres into a Freshman All-America selection after a team-leading 67-catch, 806-yard, six-touchdown performance.
In other words, it should be ridiculously fun watching Marquess Wilson and the rest of the receiving corps this coming season. In Wilson, Simmons already has a receiver with unlimited potential coming off another incredibly productive year. And there's plenty of raw talent on the roster waiting to be tapped.
With Simmons handling the outside receivers and Eric Morris working with the inside guys, the Cougars are in good hands. Now just sit back and watch the show as Simmons goes to work, squeezing even more production out of Wilson and company.