Noxubee County head football coach, Tyrone Shorter, reports that he expected big things from Simmons early on his high school career. The rush of scholarship offers came as no surprise to the veteran coach who helped lead his team to a second straight 4A state title.
"It was a real privilege to coach him," Shorter said of Simmons. "You always wonder what it would be like to coach a five star player and it's really been my honor to do so. I have coached a lot of great players in my career and I have been around a lot of great players. I would have to say though, that Jeff is the best player I have ever coached and probably the best one I have ever been around."
While Simmons was a new name to many nationally, Shorter reports that early in his high school career, Simmons should tremendous potential as a college football prospect.
"Mississippi State offered him back during his tenth grade year," Shorter said. "They were the very first ones to offer him. I told him then that it was going to be the first of many offers. I just saw even back then that he was going to be a major prospect and that a lot of people were going to be coming to Macon, Mississippi to see about him.
"You could just see it in Jeff even as a tenth grader. He just had something special about him and he worked really hard. You never had to really stay on him about things. He just did what he was supposed to do."
Shorter reports that there are some character traits that are pretty much the standard for Simmons and his family. The Noxubee County head football coach gives Simmons' mother all of the credit for how her children turned out.
"I have coached Jeff, his older brother and his sister, she played basketball," Shorter explained. "All of them are pretty much the same person. They are all very humble and they all work extremely hard. None of them have ever asked for anything and they have worked for everything that they have. They have worked hard and created some opportunities for themselves.
"They have all just done what was asked of them and they always did all they could to help the team. That's one of the best things about Jeff, he wants what is best for the team."
Simmons went through the recruiting process with the poker face of a salty veteran. While an SEC school was expected to earn his signing day autograph, Simmons never really tipped his hand despite some rumors to the contrary.
"There were some people who said it was down to Alabama and Ole Miss, but that wasn't coming from Jeff," Shorter said. "Mississippi State was always in there and he spent a lot of time on that campus his 10th and 11th grade year. They got on him early and he ended up making some good relationships up there.
"He came in and talked to me when he was ready to make his decision and he told me that it was going to be Mississippi State. We talked about it some and his mind was made up. I was proud for him and I know he is happy with the decision."
The Bulldogs had to have a pass rusher in this class that could come in and make an immediate contribution. Shorter believes the Bulldogs have exactly what they needed in Simmons.
"I'll tell you this, he's going to make an impact as soon as he gets on campus at Mississippi State," Shorter said. "He's a special player and they have talked to him about coming in and playing right away. I know he will be ready for it and I know that he will work hard to do what they need him to do."
Despite missing three games to injury, Simmons recorded 105 total tackles, 20 of those for a loss. The five star standout had 21 sacks, five pass deflections, three blocked punts, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a blocked field goal.
For his efforts, Simmons was named All-State, a Mississippi All-Star and a U.S. Army All-American game selection. Simmons had his pick of the All-Star games, but elected to spend his final high school game in San Antonio with the U.S. Army.
Now that Shorter has some five star coaching experience under his belt, the personable coach is ready for some more.
"We've got some other ones coming up, but I don't think they'll be five stars," Shorter laughed. "I know we have some threes and maybe a four star or two, but they've all seen how Jeff handled things. I am not sure he could have done things any better.
"He just took his time with everything and he didn't rush the process. He listened to what everybody had to say, he took his visits and then he made his decision. When he was ready to make his decision, he did. I wish I had ten more just like him."