Jeffery Simmons was dominating the Mississippi high school scene like few others
in recent history have done on the defensive side of the ball. Through the first
five games he had 64 tackles, 10 sacks, 10 tackles for a loss, and three blocked
punts/field goals. But as football teaches you life sometimes is not fair. The
Army All-American sustained an ankle injury which sidelined him for the next
five games. Simmons finally was able to return to full action this past Friday.
"I feel great," Simmons said on the Rebel Yell hot line Monday. "I played the full game last Friday. I was coming off the ball like I was the at the begriming of the season. I feel really good about where we are going through the playoffs."
Noxubee County defeated Amory 41-10 in the opening round of the 4A playoffs. Simmons was back to his old self as he collected a half dozen tackles and a sack and a half. They face Lafayette at home in round two.
"We have the same mind as we did last season when we won it. Especially this week right here. We are taking it personal. It's just not another game for us. The last time we played them (Lafayette) they beat us. I feel like we are on one heartbeat. We are coming in this game with everything we got."
The nation's No. 36 overall player took in an official visit to Tennessee over the weekend.
"It's just something that I wanted to go ahead and get out of the way. Tennessee was a nice visit up there. I really enjoyed it. Everything was really nice from the coaching staff to everything else. It was nice up there."
Back in Mississippi the Rebels lost in a bizarre set of plays that included a converted 4th and 25 in overtime that saw their tight end heave it back after catching the ball. The Arkansas running back picked it up off of the ground and ran from midfield to the 10 yard line to give the Razorbacks a first down. Simmons shared his thoughts on that play.
"I thought about what my coach always tells me. Great pursuit. When he (Henry) threw the ball back, Collins picked it up and ran it for the long run. It's all about pursuit. It's all about hustle and great pursuit. That last play I felt, well I did think that Ole Miss should have won that game, but defense wins championships. That is what it came about, defense."
Ole Miss has been recruiting Simmons since he was a freshman. What has he learned about them during the recruiting process?
"It's just a family thing up there. When I go up there it is all about Ole Miss. All you hear is that it is all about family. And what I have learned it is all about relationships. Their coaching staff is good about making it a big family up there. It's more than football up there."
If he were to go to Ole Miss he would play in a Robert Nkemdiche role for their defense.
"Even though I have gained a little weight I can be that end guy. I think I can play that role. I think they will use me more like Nkemdiche. We have a similar style of play. I feel like I will be able to play that role pretty good because I can stop the run and pass rush."
Jeffery's size and speed gives him several options on the field.
"Not just pass rush. I can pass rush pretty good but just being on the field every down. I feel like I can stop the run and get after the passer. With my speed, especially in the pass rush, being able to get after the quarterback. I'm able to play every position on the defensive front. Being able to stay on the field helps teams out."
What has stood out the most about Ole Miss so far?
"Like I said the family tradition there, and I love the environment and people over there."
The other instate program, MSU, is just down the road from Macon, Miss.
"It's the same thing, really. MSU, I think they were like my first offer. I have a great relationship with their coaching staff. In some ways it's just like Ole Miss. They have a family atmosphere up there, but I mean, I have gained a good relationship with coaches (David) Turner and (Dan) Mullen."
Which school needs Simmons the most?
"I would say right now. I know Ole Miss is losing a lot. They are losing two or three guys, Nkemdiche and them. MSU.,I don't really know if they are losing a lot of guys, but at this point I think Ole Miss needs me. I just don't know just yet. I'll see later on down the line."
Jeffery hasn't announced a date he will make that commitment. Could he make it at the Army All-American game?
"I haven't decided. I want to do it for my community, not at the (Army) All-American game. I'll probably do it a few days before signing day. It will be a big day for my community. I don't want to do it at the game."
In the end what will his final decision be based off?
"First it is the people who I will be around. Who are the people I have to spend my next four years around? I want to have a good relationship with the coaches, but it's not all about that. Coaches come and go. I do want a good relationship with the coaches but in the end it's all about the people around their campus. It's about the environment.
Yancy Porter is the recruiting analyst for the Ole Miss Spirit and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org