"He's a great guy," Shorter said. "Ever since I have been knowing him, he's just been a great guy. I don't want to just talk about him as a football player, but just as a kid.
"He was a trainer for the football team forever. He was always a 'Yes, sir' or 'No, sir' kind of kid coming up. He's a real respectful guy who will do anything for you. If he sees me in here cleaning up the field house, he will stop and come in here and help me out.
"Those kind of things mean a lot to me. It doesn't matter what type of activities that we are trying to put together, he is always there taking part in it. He's just the leader we need on this football team."
Simmons turned in a stellar junior campaign that ended with a 4A state championship. On the season, Simmons recorded 107 tackles and 15 and a half sacks. Heading into the spring, Coach Shorter is looking for an even better version of his talented defensive end as a senior.
"I want him to really work on his strength," Shorter explained. "I really want him to hit the weight room. He has the frame to be a very big guy. He has the height, but I want him to really work on his strength and his speed. I think he could be an inside or outside guy. He has that type of ability and he is a great athlete.
"Once he gets his strength and speed where it needs to be, he can be a complete football player."
Last fall, Simmons took a huge step forward and thrust himself into the national spotlight as one of the top edge setters in the southeast. Shorter credits Simmons' attention to detail as the secret to his junior season successes.
"He got a lot better with his technique," Shorter said. "I think he learned a lot when he want to those camps. I think his overall approach and technique as a pass rusher improved. He is so smart. He really studies the game. When we give him film, he comes back and tells us what he has seen. I think it's important for him to be a good film watcher. That is going to help him be a better player.
"I had to learn as a coach how to be better at watching film and that helps me help these kids be all that they can be. Jeffrey has come on and has learned a lot about playing the game better from watching film. I feel like he's just getting better and better all of the time."