From the time Jesse Sims de-committed from Oregon State, the second coming of his college football recruitment came with about as much stress and anxiety as hope and potential.
Sims can again breath easy -- along with one of his suitors. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound senior at Corvallis High School committed Monday to play football for the University of Montana, where he will suit up at defensive end.
Sims narrowed his choices to the Griz and Montana State last month and made official recruiting visits to both in January. In the end, the Grizzlies’ proximity -- Sims enjoyed his prep playing days an hour south of Missoula -- won out.
“I have a lot of family over here and a lot of support,” said Sims, whose older sister Alycia plays for the Lady Griz basketball team. “There's a lot of people that know my name over here, so it'll be a cool experience knowing a lot of the people that are supporting me that I grew up around.”
Sims is the fifth major in-state get for the class of 2015 who will receive a full scholarship for the Grizzlies and first-year head coach Bob Stitt. Sims joins local product Colin Bingham (slot WR) of Missoula Big Sky, Dalton Daum (WR) of Butte, Holden Ryan (WR) of Billings Central and Josh Sandry (DB) of Bigfork.
But this Blue Devils’ college destination was far from decided even a few days ago. Sims was drawn to MSU and felt reaffirmed after his visit there Jan. 16.
“I really like the coaching staff over there,” he explained. “They’ve been there for a long time and they’ve been recruiting me since just after my freshman year.”
Sims visited the Grizzlies’ Missoula campus the next weekend, Jan 23.
“It’s been very stressful,” he continued, speaking of his recruitment in general. “Being committed (to OSU) and then having that fall through, ending up having to make a decision between two schools (Montana and Montana State), I think that was the hardest thing.
“During the process I was almost wishing that one of them would call and say, ‘Hey, we don’t have a spot for ya.’ It’d been easier.”
Sims gave his verbal commitment last August to Oregon State, an NCAA Division I FBS school in the Pac 12 Conference. But once head coach Mike Riley left to take over Nebraska, Sims’ future was again up in the air. He’d been recruited as a tight end and new Beavers coach Gary Anderson’s spread offense didn’t need tight ends.
He rejoined the open recruiting market in December and drew interest from Arizona State, USC and Nebraska -- but no offers. That’s when Sims turned his full attention to the in-state programs at the FCS level.
Both the Grizzlies and Bobcats wanted Sims on the defensive side of the ball; he earned All-Southwestern A first-team honors at DE this past fall. Sims was all-conference at both tight end and defensive end as a sophomore for nearby Stevensville, where he played before transferring to Corvallis after an injury-plagued junior year.
The recruiting switch back to defense was no problem for Sims.
“I like offense, but I actually like defense a lot more,” he said. “In my opinion, it’s a lot more fun to play so I was excited.”
He’s even more excited to have the decision out of the way. National signing day is Wednesday when recruits for 2015 will make their commitments official.