How Jordan Simone went from out of football to playing for the team he grew up rooting for

Former Skyline High standout Jordan Simone has made an impression in a couple weeks as a member of the Seahawks.

Driving home from Los Angeles to Scottsdale the day after Memorial Day weekend, Jordan Simone got a call from his agent with a question both of them knew didn’t really need to be asked.

“Hey, you want to play for the Seahawks?’’ Simone heard as he traveled about an hour outside Los Angeles.

His joyous four-word response can’t be repeated fully in a family newspaper.

A few weeks later, Simone needs just one word to describe the moment — surreal.

As Simone further recounts the journey that brought him to that moment, that word seems almost too tame a description.

A native of Sammamish, Simone attended his share of Seahawks games growing up, often sitting in the Hawk’s Nest, and owned an Earl Thomas jersey.

Suddenly here he has been the last few weeks, sitting in the same meeting room as Thomas, competing for a spot as one of his backups.

But as “amazing” as that has been, to use another word Simone used to describe becoming a Seahawk, he says he hasn’t felt awed by his surroundings.

“I had put in so much work that I knew I was going to get a chance, an opportunity,’’ he said. “So I was more like ‘let’s go. It’s time to go to work.’ My family was super excited. They had the reaction of ‘Oh My God!’ But for me it was like, ‘yeah, it’s time.’ “

In some ways, the work began years ago. Simone and his older brother Gino were each key cogs of the Skyline High dynasty that won three straight state titles from 2007-09.

Jordan Simone, though, had only one scholarship offer his senior year from Eastern Washington and decided instead to join Gino and walk-on at Washington State, immediately earning a prominent role on special teams as a true freshman in 2011.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

Mike Leach came in the next season, and getting a sense that the opportunity might not be the same Simone left WSU, transferring to Arizona State in 2013 where his father, Ronnie, had played in the mid-80s, though again as a walk-on.

He earned a scholarship a year later, made 100 tackles in 2014 and represented Arizona State at Pac-12 Media Day in 2015.

A shot at the NFL seemed in the offing until he tore his ACL in a game against Washington in Tempe in November, 2015 and then while rehabbing eight months later suffered a broken knee cap.

“I was just training and running straight forward and took a little 10-yard sprint and my kneecap broke,’’ Simone said.

So he returned to Scottsdale and got a job in medical sales spending the fall of 2016 attending 6-10 surgeries a day or so, ready to supply a surgeon with a piece of equipment to fix a rotator cuff or something.

“Super interesting job,’’ he said. “It was crazy.’’

But it wasn’t football.

“It was definitely always in the back of my mind (to give football another shot),’’ he said. “I think I needed to step back from the game for a second and realize how important it was to me.’’

So he decided to start working out again hoping to get a shot with anyone, anywhere.

He’d attended a pro day for local players at the Seahawks’ facility in Renton in the spring of 2016, talking for a while with Seattle general manager John Schneider. That relationship came in handy when he attended ASU’s Pro Day this spring. He didn’t take part in drills but talked to some representatives of the Seahawks and told them he was healthy and ready to play again.

That led to an invite to Seahawks’ rookie mini-camp last month as a tryout player after which the team told him to “stay ready’’ in case an opportunity came down the road.

The call came roughly two weeks later and 24 hours or so later Simone could wear a Seahawks jersey for real.

The 5-11, 191-pounder knows the odds are long — Seattle took two safeties in the draft to back up Thomas and Kam Chancellor and also signed free agent Bradley McDougald.

But he says that also fits in his comfort zone.

“I’m a walk-on again damn near,’’ he said. “So this is nothing I’m not used to.’’

And as he did at WSU and ASU he’s already begun to catch the eyes of the coaches, with defensive coordinator Kris Richard calling Simone “a plesant surprise” following mini-camp.

That came after he had capped the last day of mini-camp with an interception that turned into a pick-six, accompanied down the sideline by a cheering Chancellor and Bobby Wagner.

“Shoot, he had the play of the camp,’’ said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. “He had a pick today and ran it back for a touchdown and lit the place up. He did really well.”

Simone, though, says his most memorable moment as a Seahawk is simply being one.

“Just waking up every day and coming to the VMAC every day is pretty damn cool,’’ he said. “I was working a job for a while and to wake up and get to play football every day is an unbelievable blessing and just to come out here and learn from the best in the league, the best of all time, really, is awesome.’’

Source link