Aug. 23, 2002
Clemson, SC – Former Clemson starting linebacker and first-round draft choice Wayne Simmons was killed in a one-car auto accident on Interstate 70 near Kansas City early Friday morning. He was 32 years old.
Simmons, who came to Clemson from Hilton Head, SC, had been retired from pro football since 1998. He played with the Green Bay Packers from 1993-96 before his two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. He was a member of Green Bay’s Super Bowl Championship team of 1996.
Simmons was the 15th pick of the first round by the Packers in 1993 and went on to play six seasons and 90 games in the National Football League. He was named to the 1993 All-Rookie team as an outside linebacker.
At Clemson, Simmons play four years covering 45 games, 16 as a starter. He finished his career with 206 tackles, including a career high 59 tackles as a freshman in 1989. He had 36 career tackles for loss and 19 career sacks. Ten years after the completion of Clemson career he is still seventh in school history in quarterback sacks.
Clemson went to three bowl games in his four years and won the ACC title in 1991. He was a member of Clemson’s 1990 defense that led the nation in total defense, and started on the 1991 defense that led the nation in rushing defense.
The most famous play of his four years took place at Florida State in 1989 when he returned an interception 73 yards for a touchdown, a key play in Clemson’s 34-23 victory over the Seminoles.
Simmons earned his degree from Clemson in finance in the summer of 1992 and played his last year as a graduate student.
“Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with his family,” said current Clemson wide receivers coach Rick Stockstill, who was on the Clemson coaching staff for all four years Simmons played at Clemson. “He always practiced and played at a high level. He was a very competitive player.
“He was also unselfish. All four of the linebackers we had during that era (Simmons, Levon Kirkland, Ashley Sheppard, John Johnson) were team players. They were all great players and went on to the NFL. He was a fun-loving guy off the field, a jokester, but very popular with his teammates.”
“We certainly feel for Wayne’s family at this moment and our prayers are with them,” said Clemson Senior Associate Athletic Director Bill D’Andrea, who was the offensive line coach in 1989, Simmons’s freshman season. “He was one of the most talented defensive players we have had at Clemson. I will never forget that interception return at Florida State. That changed the momentum of the game. “He was also an excellent student. He took difficult classes and did not cut any corners academically. He graduated on time with his class.”
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