Scout's Tales: Eugene Sims

Posted Mar 15, 2015

College Scout Steve Kazor on Scouting Small Colleges and Finding Eugene Sims.

There are numerous ways NFLteams acquire players, and the Rams’ scouting staff is always hard at work trying to find the next guy who can help them win. In Scout’s Tales, we’ll visit with members of Les Snead’s personnel department and they’ll share stories of how the process brought certain current Rams to St. Louis.

College Scout Steve Kazor on Scouting Small Colleges and Finding Eugene Sims.

I go to a lot of the real small schools throughout the country. I have a couple big schools like LSU, but we’ve had some success with some of these guys who have been free agents or late draft choices from Division II schools or NAIA schools.

When you go to an Alabama or an LSU for a Saturday night game, they’ll cram 300 people in the press box. A lot of the small schools where I go, they can only fit four or five people in the box, so I end up watching in the stands. I’ve been a lot of places where I’ve been among the fans, which is really not too bad sometimes because you get some information when you’re talking to the fans about the players.

I was at a hotel in a small town in Oklahoma last year, and when I got to the hotel I tried to email my report - they didn’t have internet yet at the hotel. I had to go down the street to McDonalds to file my report. Those are some of the challenges you deal with on the road, but you make the best of it.

In respect to the small schools, our scouting department does a great job of tracking guys. A lot of the prospects at the lower level schools are players who started out at bigger schools and transferred. Our staff does a great job of keeping up with those guys. Deantre Harlan, who we signed as an undrafted free agent this year, started at Baylor and transferred to Bacone College. We’ve tracked him all along and knew where he landed. 

What we try to do when we watch these small college guys: they have to really dominate at their position. They need to have the side/speed ratios that our directors set aside. There are so many of those small schools that you go to that just don’t have anybody. It’s a wasted effort at times, but it’s a wasted effort at a lot of big schools, too.

There are a lot of reasons why a guy ends up at a small school. Sometimes they’re undersized coming out of high school or junior college. Sometimes it’s academic related. Sometimes it’s just because of playing time. They just don’t think they’re going to get a chance to play and they’d rather go to a smaller school and start than be a backup at a big school. You just have to weigh the variables on those guys.

With Eugene Sims, he was undersized coming out of junior college in Mississippi and transferred to West Texas A&M. He’s the kind of guy that has really developed through our strength and conditioning program to become a good player. A lot of times at the lower level schools, the facilities aren’t as good and the staff is different. Usually at the small schools, a position coach has to be the strength coach, too. They wear more than one hat, so it can be hard to get a defined effort when you have so many things you have to do.

As soon as he got here and started eating well, he put on some good weight. Some of those guys take their scholarship money, live in an apartment and eat Burger King all the time. You get them here and we’ve got a full-time chef and nutritionist. That’s one of the projections you’ve got to make. I’ve coached at every level, so I’ve been able to see what guys need physically to play at the pro level. You can see things in a guy that make you want to take a second look at a guy.

Another great thing about the small schools, when you go in there, they roll the red carpet out for you. They want you to be there. When a pro-scout comes, the level of practice increases. That’s why I really enjoy going to the small schools because you get a chance to visit with the entire staff. Sometimes at a big school, you don’t get that luxury.

We got to interview Eugene a couple of times and that went well. Everyone spoke very highly of him. You get a real sense of his wellbeing. As a pass rusher, with the motor that he had, he was relentless. In junior college, he was a strong safety. At West Texas, they moved him to linebacker in a 3-4. Then they put his hand in the ground and he had 13 sacks one year. That’s where they figured out where he needed to be and that’s the position at which he’s had success with us.

Eugene is a great success story. He’s fought through an awful lot to get where he is. It’s a real tribute to his work ethic and athletic ability.