Bears seventh-round draft pick Lachavious Simmons, an offensive lineman from Tennessee State, recently chatted with ChicagoBears.com about his background, how he's staying in shape during the COVID-19 pandemic and more. Here are five things you should know about the 6-5, 315-pounder:
(1) Simmons was the only player from a historically black college and university (HBCU) selected in this year's NFL Draft.
"I take a lot of pride in that because I'm glad I can continue the tradition of HBCU players getting drafted," Simmons said. "It's an honor to be the only player this year. But there's so much talent at HBCUs. There were plenty of other guys who deserved to be drafted."
Lachavious Simmons ready to work against Khalil Mack Lachavious Simmons College Highlights NFL Scout breaks down Lachavious Simmons pick
This year marked the first time since 2012 that only one HBCU player was drafted. Three were chosen in 2018 and four were picked last year.
Restrictions resulting from the coronavirus certainly didn't help. Due to COVID-19, a Combine for HBCU players scheduled for late March in Miami was canceled. In addition, prospects were prohibited from visiting NFL facilities and scouts were not permitted to meet with players at their colleges.
Simmons feels that he'll be representing all HBCU players, saying: "I don't mind having that target on my back representing all of the HBCU players. I take pride in it and I'm going to make them proud."
(2) Simmons is also proud to be a native of Selma, Ala., a historic city that was instrumental in the civil rights movement in the 1960s.
On March 7, 1965, about 600 civil rights marchers left Selma heading east toward Montgomery, the state capital. After they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were attacked by sheriff's deputies and state troopers-a day that subsequently became known as "Bloody Sunday."
Two weeks later, Martin Luther King Jr. led a march over the bridge to Montgomery. Along the 50-mile trek, the group grew from 3,200 to 25,000. The marches helped generate public support for the civil rights movement, leading to the U.S. Congress passing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
"I take great pride in being from Selma," Simmons said. "I love my city. Every year we have the Jubilee festival to remember those who marched across the bridge and I always attend the event. There's a great pride in being from here."
(3) Simmons is motivated by the memory of his first cousin, Roderick Ellis, who passed away on May 15, 2002 at the age of 12.
"He had an asthma attack and he lost too much oxygen to his brain," Simmons said. "It still drives me today because I know he didn't get to enjoy his full life. He had so much potential and I just want to do it for him."
Simmons and Ellis were inseparable as kids.
"We used to always hang out together," Simmons said. "If I wasn't at his house, he was at my house. We were real tight."
(4) While participating in the Bears' offseason program, Simmons has been shuttling between Selma and his family's farm about 15 miles away in Orrville, Ala.
"When we have all of our virtual meetings, I'll be in Selma because there's a better [internet] connection up there, and then I go down to the farm and I work out down there," he said.
"I have a rack, so I can do the basic bench, squat, incline and stuff like that. After I finish that, my dad got me a tractor tire. I flip the tractor tire down and back in a little pit, and then I drag the tire, Man, that's a workout."
(5) Simmons was nicknamed "Pig" as a kid by his grandmother because of the way he'd devour some of her special dishes.
"She used to always cook collard greens and cornbread and stuff like that and I used to just pig out on it," Simmons said. "That's how I got the nickname 'Pig,' and it just stuck."