Simpson football roster includes over 20 from Arizona


Morgan Parrish

Head Coach Matt Jeter makes Arizona a home base for recruitment.

by Morgan Parrish, Staff Reporter

The current Simpson College football roster includes players from all over but has 21 players from Arizona, the highest number from one state other than Iowa, because of the lack of athletic opportunities Arizona has to offer.

It can be hard to imagine why an Iowa Division III college would focus on Arizona and why athletes from Arizona would choose to come to Iowa. Still, there are a few reasons why these two states are closely connected to athletics, specifically football. 

Head coach of Simpson football, Matt Jeter, said that Arizona had become a home base state for their recruitment process since assistant coach James Hoffman started recruiting from Arizona for the 2014-2015 school year.

“We look at the state of Arizona, and they have Arizona State, Arizona, and Northern Arizona, and then there is nowhere else for these kids to go. So for us and during our recruitment, we want to make sure we make Arizona a home base for us,” Jeter said. 

When Coach Jeter came to coach at Simpson in 2016, Arizona had begun to discontinue many of their community colleges, leaving their athletes to go Division I in the state of Arizona, leave the state, or not play at all.  

Coach Jeter also pointed out that several Midwest states compete hard for the same Arizonan players because not as many Midwest athletes or Iowans are playing football anymore. 

“The state of Arizona has really good football. Everybody is not going D1, so where are these kids going to go? And these kids in the state of Arizona are willing to go anywhere to play football,” Jeter said.

Sophomore Mason Ramirez came to play at Simpson due to the lack of opportunities Arizona had to offer, and he enjoyed what Simpson could give him. 

“In Arizona, there are no D3 schools, so if you want to play in the NCAA, you have to go D1 or nothing, so it is kind of difficult for those people who are not top prospects but still want to play football to play in Arizona. I knew I was going to have to go out of state. I took a few visits and narrowed it down to a few schools, and Simpson had good facilities and a good football program,” Ramirez said. 

Arizona was such a hot recruitment state for Simpson because they specifically offered students from Arizona, California, and a couple of others, a yearly grant, but now they offer nearly all states a type of grant for attending Simpson. Although all these other states now have Simpson grants, they are still not a big recruitment focus for Coach Jeter because those other states, such as California, offer more athletic opportunities than Arizona. 

Other Midwest colleges were looking at Ramirez, including Iowa schools such as Central and Clark. Ramirez said that Simpson and Central came down to Arizona to meet with him, but his choice came down to Simpson and an NCAA school in Chicago. He ultimately picked Simpson over Chicago due to state grants Simpson offers. 

“The Simpson Arizona grant was a factor in my decision because the two schools I narrowed it down to were so close in everything that it was going to start coming down to costs, and ultimately Simpson gave me the best deal as far as scholarships and grants,” Ramirez said.  

Fifth-year Austin Bell came to Simpson from Arizona primarily because of the coaching staff and campus.

“Simpson showed the most interest in me coming out of high school, and when I came on my visit, I loved the campus and the coaching staff, so it made my choice pretty easy,” Bell said.

Bell also enjoyed that he wasn’t the only Arizona kid that Simpson was recruiting, but he was one the first to the big Arizona group that has developed.

“Before I got here, they had a few Arizona kids, not as many as we have now, but they really put an emphasis on recruiting all over Arizona, which is cool to think I’m one of the guys who started the pipeline of Arizona players,” Bell said. 

Bell also stated that the Arizona grant Simpson offers was a huge factor in his decision to play for the Storm. 

“The Arizona grants played a pretty significant factor because, without those, I don’t know if I would have been able to pay for it all,” Bell said. 

Coach Jeter wants these Arizona athletes to know that he is committed to them and their home state. There is a reason that the coaches can get this many Arizona athletes to play football at Simpson. 

“I think the reason we can get some of these kids, compared to competitors, is because we go down there and make a presence. Many other schools are doing it over the phone, and I need to see them at school and see their folks. I don’t want to send them messages; I want them to know that we are going to commit to them. I want to make it a point that we are going to invest in the state of Arizona recruiting student-athletes with high character, talented football players, and high academic standards,” Jeter said. 

Both Bell and Ramirez said they are close with the other Arizona players and can connect with them quickly when they go through the recruitment process. 

“I’ve gotten to know many of them through the recruiting process on top of being able to connect with those guys when they get on campus and share my experiences through college to help them with adjusting to Simpson and Iowa,” Bell said. 

Ramirez said he didn’t know the other Arizona players before Simpson but became close with them quickly after arriving. 

“Arizona guys all know each other’s high schools. I didn’t really know any of them before I came to Simpson because Phoenix is really big, and it’s tough to know everyone there, but we all come from the same place and have the same backgrounds, so we tend to hang out a lot,” Ramirez said. 

Coach Jeter does not plan on easing off recruitment in Arizona anytime soon and hopes to add even more Arizona kids to his roster in the future.