Rayon Simmons is not an average student in the same way he is not an average football player. When he was not concentrating on the field, where he successfully broke WSU rushing records, he was concentrating in the classroom, using the same focus and determination that made him a stand-out athletically.

Originally from St. Louis, Simmons attended a Division I school in Iowa, but quickly realized it wasn’t a good fit. He transferred to WSU in 2009 and has never looked back.

“You weren’t just a number, you were a priority,” Simmons said. “I really liked the setting, and the people were very welcoming on and off the campus, especially the faculty and coaches.”

Simmons will be the first in his family to graduate from college and values being a role model for his younger siblings, showing them it’s possible to balance school and sports.

Simmons explored this delicate balance in his senior capstone project, creating a video teaching module to help incoming student athletes balance schoolwork with the obligations of being an intercollegiate athlete.

Professor Susan Hatfield had Simmons in class this fall and quickly realized why he was such a successful athlete.

“It’s his ability to focus, and his approach to setting goals and figuring out what it takes to get the job done,” Hatfield said. “It was fun to watch him translate the skills he learned playing football into the classroom.”

Looking to the future, Simmons hopes eventually to start his own recruiting agency for high school and college athletes, but right now he’s focused on playing football professionally.

“It’s always been a dream,” Simmons said, “so I’m going to chase it.”

Simmons said his favorite memory of WSU will be graduation, receiving his degree in front of his friends and family.

“In spite of all his accomplishments and attention he’s received on the field this semester,” Hatfield said, “Ray is very gracious, humble, and approachable.  It’s been a pleasure to work with him.”

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Eric Hawkins

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