The Valley might be a new home for former Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons, who was drafted eighth overall by the Cardinals in Thursday's NFL Draft, but the 21-year-old is already used to winning in Glendale's State Farm Stadium.
While at Clemson, Simmons was a part of two Fiesta Bowl champion teams. After joining the Cardinals, Simmons will call State Farm Stadium home, hoping to bring some of that Fiesta Bowl fortune with him.
The Fiesta Bowl is one of the six largest annual college bowl games -- or New Year Six bowls -- that rotates every three years as one of the College Football Playoff's semifinal games. Simmons' Clemson teams were the last two winners of the Fiesta Bowl semifinals.
Both wins came against Ohio State. At the end of this past season, Simmons' senior year, he recorded four tackles and intercepted a pass in a 29-23 victory over the Buckeyes Dec. 28, 2019 in Glendale. It was the last win of Simmons' college career as Clemson fell to No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow -- a Fiesta Bowl champ from the 2018 season -- and LSU in the National Championship Game.
As a freshman, Simmons was also on the Clemson team that beat Ohio State 35-31 in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal before winning the National Championship over Alabama. Simmons was relegated to the sideline for that Fiesta Bowl, as he only appeared in one regular season game his freshman season. Simmons would win another National Championship with Clemson his junior year, but the road did not go through Glendale that time.
Simmons was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and went to high school in Olathe, Kansas. Clemson University is located in Clemson, South Carolina.
This is the third straight draft that Cardinals have drafted a player who played in the Fiesta Bowl during their college career.
With the first pick in the second round of last year's draft, the Cardinals selected Washington cornerback Byron Murphy. Murphy had seven tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and a deflected pass as a redshirt freshman in loss to Penn State in the 2017 Fiesta Bowl. It was a return to the Valley for Murphy, who is a Scottsdale native and attended Saguaro High School in Scottsdale.
In the sixth round of the 2018 draft, the Cardinals selected another cornerback from the same game -- Penn State's Christian Campbell, who had four tackles in the 2017 Fiesta Bowl win over Washington. Campbell has never played a snap in the NFL though. The Cardinals cut him before the start of the 2018 season and has been signed and cut by two other teams since.