It’s always good to have options, and Dallas Sims has plenty.
The 17-year-old Winnipeg native has received 18 NCAA scholarship offers after helping Clearwater Academy International — a private school in Florida serving pre-Kindergarten through to Grade 12 — win consecutive Sunshine State Independent Association titles.
Minnesota, Boston College, Purdue, Iowa State and Pittsburgh are among the schools that have reached out to Sims, a six-foot-three, 195-pound receiver who’ll return for a senior season this fall but wants to settle on a university in July.
Sims is looking for a school with a solid culture that will allow him to be himself.
“I don’t want to have to hide my personality,” he said during a telephone interview. “Another factor will be how many people are at my position.
“Who’s there won’t be a factor, but if I have to beat out 15 people that’s a little bit more than having to beat out eight people because I believe I can beat out eight people. Fifteen would take time.”
Sims had 24 catches for 429 yards (17.9-yard average) with four touchdowns in eight games last season. He recorded two receptions for 19 yards in six contests in 2021.
Sims isn’t overwhelmed by the sheer number of offers. After all, he envisioned being in this position when he left Manitoba two and a half years ago.
“I’d say the recruiting process is more stressful than getting an actual offer because I’ve always believed in myself and felt I could do it,” Sims said. “I’m definitely not taking these opportunities for granted.
“This was my dream growing up.” So, too, has been a pro career.
“The dream is definitely the NFL, and I don’t see it as a dream,” Sims said. “I have all the people around me to make it happen.
“If it’s the CFL, then it’s the CFL. I just want to get to the next level, whatever that level is.”
— Dallas Sims † (@dallassims12) February 1, 2023
Sims plans to enrol in university sometime in January. He was pleased to receive Minnesota’s offer as he and Gophers co-offensive coordinator/receivers coach Matt Simon had been speaking for some time.
“Coach Simon is a great dude,” Sims said. “The reason why they waited to make an offer was he (Simon) wanted to see more of my personality.
“For him to take the time to get to know me, I really appreciated that. I have family (two cousins) in Minnesota and it’s about a seven-hour drive from Winnipeg so family and friends can come down. It was just a big offer for me to get.”
The mature and savvy Sims has a clear vision of his future goals and what he must do to achieve them.
“No, it wasn’t tough (to leave home at age 15),” Sims said. “It was always my dream to play in the U.S.
“I call my family often, I know they’re good and everything is well back home. I also know if they need me I can be there quickly. I’ve never felt I had to rely on anyone else except myself in tough situations, because you’re not always going to have people by you. Learning that made things 10 times easier.”
Clearwater head coach Jesse Chincar said having driven, focused players like Sims enhances his program.
“They’re far from home and come here on a mission,” he said. “They don’t come here to hang out at the beach, they come here to work hard, get better and earn Division I scholarships.
“I think it takes a certain level of maturity to do that and make those decisions.”
Sims isn’t the only Canadian at Clearwater mulling over NCAA offers. So too is Isaiah Thomas, a six-foot-three, 197-pound safety from Markham, Ont., who made the move to Florida last year and lives with the same host family as Sims.
Thomas will also enter his senior season there this fall.
“Isaiah was quiet at first but once you get to know him, he’s just a funny, calm individual you can vibe with,” Sims said. “He also knows what he wants to do with his life and is a good person to be around.
“When you’re around people who have the same goals and mindset as you, there’s no way you can fail. You’re going to see them achieve stuff and be like, ‘Hey, I need to do the same thing.’”
Chincar said Sims’ size and athleticism present problems for opposing defences.
“He’s exceptionally quick and strong for somebody of his size,” Chincar said. “He uses his size as an advantage but he’s also able to change direction really well and has a unique ability to see the field and know what to do at the right time.”
A converted running back, Sims lists his athleticism and ability to gain yards after the catch as his top attributes. And when a rushing play is called, Sims will engage the defence.
“Not many receivers want to lay the hit,” Sims said. “No matter what weight I’m at, I’m going to lay that hit.
“I’m not afraid of an opponent.”
Regardless of his accomplishments, Sims won’t ever rest upon his laurels.
“I know I need to improve everything every day until I make it,” he said. “And when I make it, I’m going to be around people who’ve also made it.
“That’s only going to make me strive harder to be better than the person next to me, even if he’s my teammate.”
And as he progresses on his football journey, Sims says he never forgets his roots.
“I’m showing that Canadian kids have the same amount of talent,” Sims said. “I want to try and clear a path for people and be more than just a football player.
“I’d like to influence young people with my experience. Staying true to my roots is a total big thing for me.”
Springfield Collegiate Institute midnight football practice