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Giants among those singing praises of Clemson's Isaiah Simmons

Isaiah Simmons of the Clemson Tigers celebrates a

Isaiah Simmons of the Clemson Tigers celebrates a defensive stop against the LSU Tigers during the first quarter in the College Football Playoff National Championship game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on Jan. 13, 2020. Credit: Getty Images/Mike Ehrmann

MOBILE, Ala. -— The offensive MVPs of the past three Senior Bowls all have two things in common.

They were all quarterbacks. And they were all drafted by the Giants.

Given how pleased the team is with the last in that string of selections, Daniel Jones having followed Kyle Lauletta and Davis Webb, it’s a streak that is likely to end.

But there is also a very good chance that the player the Giants take with the fourth overall selection in April’s draft — assuming they stay at that position in the order — isn’t even at this year’s Senior Bowl. Many of the prospects at the tippy top of the watch lists and mock drafts are juniors who have declared early for the NFL.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t an opportunity to do some digging on them at this event, though. Which is why a player like Clemson guard Tremayne Anchrum Jr. is prepared to sell not only himself, but his top-of-the-line teammate Isaiah Simmons when meeting with teams.

“The guy is a Swiss army knife,” Anchrum told Newsday about Simmons, who could intrigue the Giants in the first round as a much-needed defensive playmaker. “That man can make a play from anywhere on the field. He is one of the most talented players I have ever seen. That guy is a worker. He loves to play and he loves to compete. Teams are going to get an X-factor with him.”

The Giants used a first-round pick on a Clemson defender a year ago, taking Dexter Lawrence. The defensive tackle told Newsday that Simmons is not only a productive player but a stellar personality. Lawrence said the word that came to mind for him when he thought of Simmons was “charisma.” Anchrum agreed.

“He’s a serious guy, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously,” Anchrum said. “That guy is a once-in-a-lifetime player but also a once-in-a-lifetime person. He’s a special dude who cares about people and genuinely wants to see them do well.”

For a team like the Giants that is still in the finishing phases of overhauling the culture of their locker room, and two years ago fell in love with Saquon Barkley not just for his play but his “generational spirit,” those are the kinds of endorsements that film study and All-Star games can’t provide.

Another Lamar Jackson

In high school in California, Lamar Jackson used to check the recruiting websites to see what people were saying about him. That’s when he first found out about the other Lamar Jackson who was a year ahead of him. “I was like ‘Who is this kid from Florida?’” That kid turned out to be an eventual Heisman Trophy winner at Louisville and the presumptive MVP of the NFL this season as the Ravens’ quarterback. Now the California-based Jackson is the other Lamar Jackson, a cornerback from Nebraska at the Senior Bowl, trying to carry on the legacy of his already recognizable name. “It’s funny that he’s in the league doing what he’s doing and I’m on my way to the league, I’m right behind him,” Jackson said on Tuesday. “One day I hope I get an interception [off him] or whatever the case may be. I can’t wait to meet him. At the end of the day I’m happy he’s great and I’m planning on building my legacy just like he’s done.”

Remembering Seawolves

The are no Stony Brook University players at the Senior Bowl, but the Seawolves aren’t far from the mind of at least one quarterback at the All-Star game. Utah State Jordan Love, asked about his favorite play from his senior year, pointed immediately to his 29-yard touchdown pass to Saiosi Mariner in the 62-7 win over Stony Brook in the season opener. “I was rolling to my left, threw it back across my body to the right on a post to Saiosi,” he recalled. What made it so memorable? “It was early in the season, obviously a crazy play, and it scored a touchdown.”

Pittman follows his dad

Michael Pittman Jr. carries the name of his Super Bowl-winning father, but plays a different position. The older version was a running back in the NFL for 12 seasons and helped the Bucs win Super Bowl XXXVII.

“I’ve seen his highlight videos but I didn’t watch the game because I was so young,” Pittman Jr., a wide receiver from USC, said at the Senior Bowl on Tuesday. “I didn’t think anything of it. I just thought my dad was playing in another football game.” Pittman said he has been getting some good advice from his father throughout his career in terms of negotiating the journey, first from high school to college, and now from college to the pros. “We talk every day,” he said. “He gives me great advice.” One thing Pittman didn’t give his son is his body type. While the running back version was a stocky 6-foot and 225 pounds, the wide receiver is a lanky 6-4 and 220. “I’m tall and long,” Pittman said. “I mean, I don’t know why that is. Maybe I’m like adopted or something.”

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