One local football player has gone viral thanks to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at the NFL Draft and a big football name.
Overnight, life has changed quite a bit for Pearl Cohn Musical Magnet High School football captain Elijah Simmons.
“A lot of tweets, a lot of people congratulating me,” said Simmons.
Simmons, or Big E, as his friends call him, catapulted into the national spotlight as one of 12 Nashville high school football players honored by the Tennessee Titans in their first round picks.
“It’s a blessing,” said Simmons. “Gives me something to look forward to and hopefully I’ll be in those peoples shoes.”
But the spotlight didn’t stop there.
Something about the 6-foot-2-inch, 340-pound always-smiling Simmons that caught the eye of Houston Texan JJ Watt.
Minutes after he took the stage, Watt tweeted: “Can we draft #72 from the Tennessee metro high school team? Kid looks like a beast.”
“After we walked back to the area we were sitting, there a few of the players told me that JJ tweeted about it and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh it’s crazy.'”
The University of Tennessee Knoxville was quick to respond about their newest recruit, tweeting: “Sorry, we’ll have 901_hollywood_e for the next couple of years.”
“A lot of people say that, but for JJ Watt to say that, it’s something way bigger,” said Simmons.
“He has the IT factor, he has the IT factor,” said Tony Brunetti, Simmon’s football coach.
Brunetti has helped to guide Simmons for the past five years.
“You’re not going to find a more humble kid in your life,” said Brunetti. “I think he wants to be successful. I think the biggest thing he needed was people to push him and guide him and that’s where we were.”
Elijah wasn’t what they call a five-star recuit.
But thanks to perseverance and hard work, he earned several offers right before the season started.
“I want to be someone who helps the Vols win championships from year after year,” said Simmons.
As Big E prepares for his college debut, he still finds plenty of time for his other passions, shot put and singing.
Simmons said he hopes his newfound fame will inspire others as he hopes to one day again take the main stage, as an NFL pick.
“First faith, and the next consistency- you got to be consistent in everything you do and hard work because once you have hard work it pays off,” he said.
Simmons is set to begin training with the Vols in the summer.
He said he hopes to one day play for his favorite team – the New England Patriots.