Follow the leader

Who is going to be the leader of the Tennessee offense this fall? While many thought that junior college transfer Matt Simms was a shoo-in for the position, true freshman Tyler Bray made a statement of his own for the position. Now it's time to see who steps up and takes the leadership reins. Go "Inside" for our thoughts about Matt Simms the leader.

What's the definition of the word leader?

According to Webster Dictionary, the word means someone who leads, someone who directs, someone who has commanding authority or influence.

It's important for the leader of your football team to have that authority and influence on its team members.

It's almost vital for the leader to be mature and to make good decisions.

After Saturday's Orange and White game, junior college quarterback Matt Simms offered no excuses about his less-than-average performance.

"I did some things well, did some other things not so well," Simms said. "I had a good time, came and gave a little show for the fans, just ready to get ready to work this summer and get better."

Simms earned the starting nod after fifth-year senior Nick Stephens decided to transfer after he was demoted to third string reps.

Earlier in the spring, Simms showed poise, a strong arm, and presence of mind that led to Derek Dooley and staff moving the junior college transfer up in getting more first team reps.

"It's great to see my hard work is paying off," Simms said earlier when it was first announced that he would be working more with the first team offense. "I have a lot of work to do, this race is far from over, Tyler Bray is very talented and is still getting his feet wet."

One would have thought that Simms would have thrived after knowing that he was the leader for the position, but just the opposite occurred. The redshirt junior turned in his two worst performances of the season in his last two scrimmages.

"I can't dwell on the negatives," Simms admitted. "I just have to continue to work hard, things will work out, the work will pay off."

Now it's up to the talented signal caller to shake off any doubts the last two scrimmages may have created.

It's up to him to display the leadership; it's up to Simms to take control over his team - to lead them through summer workouts, to take that authority and influence to the next level.

"I'm excited about the summer," Simms noted. "I'm glad to move forward, I'm very excited that Montori is on my team, so I won't get hit by him any more."

Simms is thankful that he has accomplished a lot since his arrival to Rocky Top.

"I have gotten to know my coaches on and off the field a lot better," Simms said. "I have gotten the opportunity to know and learn more about my teammates."

Simms brings confidence to the huddle, something that isn't lost on some of his teammates.

"I like the confidence and swagger he brings," Gerald Jones said. "He brings an excitement to the huddle, he throws a great ball."

Simms will also be the first to admit that he has grown up a lot since he first came out of high school.

"I was a young punk when I was at Louisville," Simms said. "I have worked hard, I have matured a lot. I feel I have improved as a player but also as a person."

One person that Simms credited for his growth on and off the field is his father, former NFL quarterback Phil Simms.

"He is always letting me know the little things I can do better," Simms admitted. "It's been great learning the game from someone who has had so much success. He has always been dad first, but also has been a big influence on my game."

While Simms may have struggled at times this spring, it's apparent it's his job to lose.

Oh, but don't forget Matt that Tyler wants that starting role too, so the competition will be fun to watch leading up to the Vols opener against Tennessee Martin.

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