Simmons was a playing and coaching protege of Don Nehlen. While at WVU, he coached the outside linebackers. Simmons, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, was a standout linebacker for Nehlen at Bowling Green where he earned three letters and was named All-Conference following his senior season. He was a football and basketball star at Shaw High School in Cleveland, the same school that produced WVU's John Talley and his brother, former All-American Darryl Talley. Simmons joined the Falcons staff as an assistant coach for Nehlen. He was a member of the original WVU staff which came to Morgantown in 1980. Simmons coached three years at Toledo and four years at Bowling Green prior to coming to Morgantown. He was also the academic adviser at Bowling Green for two years.