Ernie Sims
UCF Knights
Position:Linebackers coach
Personal information
Born: (1984-12-23) December 23, 1984 (age 38)
Tallahassee, Florida, U.S.
Height:6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight:233 lb (106 kg)
Career information
High school:Tallahassee (FL) North Florida Christian
College:Florida State (2003–2005)
NFL Draft:2006 / Round: 1 / Pick: 9
Career history
As a player:
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
As a coach:
  • Florida Atlantic (2018)
    Assistant strength and conditioning coordinator
  • Florida Atlantic (2019)
    Director of football operations
  • South Florida (2020)
    Defensive quality control analyst
  • South Florida (2021–2022)
    Linebackers coach
  • South Florida (2022)
    Interim defensive coordinator
  • UCF (2023–present)
    Linebackers coach
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Total tackles:623
Forced fumbles:6
Fumble recoveries:3
Player stats at · PFR

Ernie Sims III (born December 23, 1984) is a former American football linebacker and current coach. He played college football at Florida State and was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft. He also played for the Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts and Dallas Cowboys.

Early years

A native of Tallahassee, Florida, Sims attended North Florida Christian High School, where he began his high school football career by earning a varsity letter while only in the eighth grade, a feat not often heard of.[1] A two-way player at running back and linebacker, Sims earned a total of five varsity letters. Playing in Class A, Florida's smallest classification, Sims led the Eagles to four state championships from 1998 to 2001. In his senior year, however, North Florida was eliminated in the region semifinals of the Class A playoffs, losing to Jay 19–14.[2] As a junior, totaled 180 tackles, 41 tackles for loss, 12 sacks and forced seven fumbles on defense and rushed for over 600 yards and 17 touchdowns as a tailback. During his senior year, Sims registered 133 tackles (73 solo stops), 15 tackles for lost yardage, six forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and one blocked field goal attempt from his linebacker position and ran for 1,081 yards on 115 carries for 23 touchdowns as a running back.

Sims earned All-American honors by Parade and USA Today. ranked Sims as not only the top linebacker in his class but as the top prospect in the country.[3][4] As of 2023, Sims remained the only linebacker ranked atop of the Rivals annual rankings. Recruited by virtually every school in the nation, Sims took official visits to Georgia, Florida, Auburn, Miami (FL), and Florida State. On National Signing Day, Sims chose the Seminoles over the Gators.[5]

College career

At Florida State, Sims wore #34, a number that was retired in honor of former Seminole football player, Ron Sellers. Sellers gave Sims and the university permission for Sims to wear the jersey number.[6]

In 2003, as a true freshman at Florida State, Sims played in all 13 games of the season, including the Orange Bowl against Miami (FL), as a back-up outside linebacker. He finished ninth on the team with 42 tackles, and added two tackles for lost yardage, two pass break-ups, three quarterback hurries and a forced fumble. Sims was also one of the Seminoles' top special teams performers. He earned ACC Rookie of the Week for his efforts against Wake Forest, which included a season-high 10 tackles.

As a sophomore, Sims played in all 12 games, and made the starting lineup by the second week. For his exceptional play on the field in 2004, Sims was named to the second All-ACC team and ESPN named Sims to their first-team All-American team. He finished second on the team with a single-season career-high 86 tackles, behind only A. J. Nicholson (88). Sims also recorded a single-season career-high nine tackles for lost yardage, 4.5 quarterback sacks, nine quarterback hurries, five pass break-ups, two forced fumbles and a blocked kick. In three games (North Carolina, Duke, and Florida), Sims recorded double-digit tackles, including a career-high 12 tackles against the Gators. In the Seminoles' 36–3 victory over Virginia, he had nine tackles, a career-high two sacks and a blocked punt. Sims followed that performance with eight tackles, one tackle for lost yardage, a sack and a pass break-up against Wake Forest. Each of those weeks, Sims earned ACC Defensive Back of the Week, as the only player in the ACC to earn the ACC Defensive Back of the Week honors multiple times during the season.

In July 2005, Sims was arrested on charges of battery and resisting an officer, allegedly shoving his then-girlfriend "repeatedly to the ground" during an argument in the parking lot of a FSU residence hall.[7][8] Expectations for his junior year were high, as The Sporting News and other publications named him to their pre-season All-American teams. Sims had a productive, but not spectacular junior season, starting all 13 games, including the Orange Bowl.

Sims majored in Environmental Studies at Florida State. In January 2006, Sims announced that he would forgo his senior season to focus on a career in the NFL.

Professional career

2006 NFL Draft

Described as a "three-down linebacker who plays bigger than his listed size", Sims was selected as ninth overall in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions.[9] He was the highest selected Seminoles defender since Corey Simon in 2000.

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand span 40-yard dash 10-yard split 20-yard split 20-yard shuttle Three-cone drill Vertical jump Broad jump Bench press
5 ft 11+18 in
(1.81 m)
231 lb
(105 kg)
30+34 in
(0.78 m)
9+14 in
(0.23 m)
4.54 s 1.54 s 2.61 s 4.22 s 7.31 s 41 in
(1.04 m)
10 ft 5 in
(3.18 m)
25 reps
All results from NFL Combine[10][11]

Detroit Lions

Sims was targeted by Lions general manager Matt Millen to bolster the Lions' defense at weakside linebacker. On July 30, 2006, he signed a 5-year, $15.735 million contract with $12.1 million guaranteed.[12] Sims started all 16 games his rookie season at outside linebacker, collecting 124 tackles (81 solo tackles) and was credited with a half sack and one pass deflection. On December 3, against the New England Patriots, Sims had a career-high 13 total tackles. On December 31, Sims made a key tackle on fourth down to give the Lions a big win against the Dallas Cowboys. On September 3, 2007, Sims was named one of five captains for the 2007 Detroit Lions. The Lions former head coach, Rod Marinelli, said that Sims' resembled that of Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks in his early years, being described as a fast, punishing, sure-tackler.

Philadelphia Eagles

Sims was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles on April 19, 2010, in a three-team trade. The Denver Broncos sent tight end Tony Scheffler and a seventh-round draft pick in 2010 to the Detroit Lions, the Lions sent Sims to the Eagles, and the Eagles sent a fifth-round draft pick in 2010 to the Broncos.[13]

Indianapolis Colts

On August 2, 2011, Sims signed with the Indianapolis Colts as an unrestricted free agent. He wasn't re-signed at the end of the year.

Dallas Cowboys

After the loss of Sean Lee to injury, on October 24, 2012, the Dallas Cowboys signed him as an unrestricted free agent to provide depth at linebacker. Sims quickly became a starter by his second game (against the Atlanta Falcons) and eventually the unit's defensive play caller, after injuries decimated the position further. He finished the season with 42 tackles, one sack, 2 quarterback pressures and 3 passes defensed.[14] He also recorded 10 tackles in the Cowboys' emotional week 14 win against the Cincinnati Bengals, a day after the team received news of the death of Jerry Brown and the arrest of Josh Brent.

On March 18, 2013, Sims was signed to a one-year contract at the league minimum salary.[15] He registered 42 tackles, a forced fumble and started 6 games while replacing Bruce Carter, Justin Durant and Sean Lee at different times.[16] He wasn't re-signed at the end of the season.

Arizona Cardinals

On June 3, 2014, Sims signed 1-year deal to replace the suspended Daryl Washington. He was released on August 7.[17]

NFL statistics

2006 DET 16 125 82 43 0.5 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
2007 DET 16 134 97 37 1.0 3 0 0 1 5 5 5 0 2
2008 DET 16 113 71 42 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
2009 DET 11 49 32 17 0.0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
2010 PHI 15 55 48 7 2.0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 5
2011 IND 13 61 32 29 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
2012 DAL 10 44 27 17 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
2013 DAL 12 42 31 11 0.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Career 109 623 420 203 5.5 6 3 0 1 5 5 5 0 12



Personal life

On May 29, 2009, Sims married Brooke McGriff, who is pursuing a degree in education at Tallahassee Community College.[19]

Sims' mother, Alice Sims, formerly Alice Bennett, was an All-American sprinter on the Florida State track and field team from 1980 through 1983.[20] His younger brother, Marcus Sims, a highly regarded high school running back, announced in February 2006 that he will also play his college football at Florida State before transferring to the University of North Alabama . His father Ernie, Sr. was also a running back at Florida State.

Sims owns a small collection of animals: 5 dogs and 1 type of reptile.[21] Fox produced a segment for the Lions' game against the Minnesota Vikings in Detroit in 2007 which showcased his pets.

Sims currently resides in his home town of Tallahassee, FL, where he owns his own athletic training facility, called Ernie Sims' Big Hits Performance. He also has his own local sports talk radio show.


  1. ^ "Sims growing weary but says Dogs have shot". Athens Herald-Banner. January 25, 2003.
  2. ^ "North Florida Chr. star state's best". St. Petersburg Times. December 6, 2002.
  3. ^ "Inside linebackers 2003". Rivals. February 3, 2003.
  4. ^ "The Rivals 100". Rivals. January 30, 2003.
  5. ^ "Big Ernie's a 'Nole!!". February 5, 2003. Archived from the original on October 5, 2013.
  6. ^ "New numbers game: Unretiring a jersey". Florida Times-Union. February 12, 2003.
  7. ^ "Star linebacker Sims arrested on domestic battery charge". Florida Times-Union. July 6, 2005.
  8. ^ "FSU's Sims suspended after arrest". St. Petersburg Times. July 7, 2005.
  9. ^ "2006 NFL Draft Listing". Retrieved May 9, 2023.
  10. ^ "Ernie Sims Draft and Combine Prospect Profile". Retrieved July 23, 2023.
  11. ^ "*Ernie Sims, DS #3 OLB, Florida State". Retrieved April 19, 2010.
  12. ^ "Ernie Sims; Contract Information for Ernie Sims". 2008-8-14. Allstar Stats, Inc. August 14, 2008. Retrieved August 14, 2008.[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ Cotsonika, Nicolas J. (April 19, 2010). "Lions trade Ernie Sims, get tight end Scheffler". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved April 19, 2010.[dead link]
  14. ^ "Cowboys free agents: Ernie Sims". February 6, 2013.
  15. ^[dead link]
  16. ^ "2014 Cowboys free agents: Ernie Sims". February 26, 2014.
  17. ^ "Cardinals cut Sims as vet LB didn't fit scheme". August 7, 2014.
  18. ^ "Ernie Sims Stats". ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
  19. ^ [1]
  20. ^ "Ernie, Marcus carrying on Sims' strong name". May 11, 2006. Archived from the original on October 4, 2013.
  21. ^ Philadelphia Eagles Ernie Sims full bio[dead link]