Ex-WMU Bronco to play in Arena BowlPublished 12:04am Thursday, August 11, 2011
Former Western Michigan University standout receiver Jamarko Simmons will play on the the arena game’s biggest stage when he and the Jacksonville Sharks play in Arena Bowl XXIV Friday at 8 p.m. on the NFL Network.
Simmons’ pro career looked to be in jeopardy after an injury sidelined his effort to make the Green Bay Packers roster in 2009. This was one season removed from Simmons becoming WMU’s career leader in receptions (260) and receiving yards (1,276).
Simmons, a native of Flint, Mich., signed with the Sharks as a rookie on Oct. 20, 2010. He appeared in nine games as a receiver and short-yardage back. He carried the ball 12 times for 11 yards and seven TDs during the regular season.
As a receiver, Simmons (#22) hauled in 27 catches for 265 yards and 10 TDs. His numbers in the playoffs have also been impressive with three rushing TDs on six attempts and 57 yards and two scores on seven catches in the Sharks’ two playoff games.
“Hard work pays off. I just want to thank my family and everyone who supported me through the good and bad times during my journey,” commented Simmons via text on Tuesday afternoon. “I also want to say a special thank you to Coach Cubit and his staff. I never knew what hard work was until I met coach. Thank you.”
Simmons broke out in 2007 with his first 1,000-yard receiving season at WMU, recording 1,019 yards on 84 receptions. He followed that with a single-season record of 104 catches in 2008. Simmons had 12 100-yard receiving games as a Bronco, the third most in program history. He, along with Greg Jennings rank second for 100-yard receiving games in a season with six.
Arena Bowl XXIV is the Jacksonville Sharks’ first ever league championship, while their opponent, the Arizona Rattlers, have appeared in the Arena Bowl five times and captured two titles. The game, airing live on the NFL Network at 8 p.m. is just four days removed from the Sharks hosting their first-ever American Conference Championship game.