By John Davis, Oxford Citizen
A silver medal hung around the neck of Jeffrey Simmons at the MHSAA Class 4A state track meet.
One of the nation’s top defensive line prospects for the 2016 class finished second in the shot put with a throw of 49 feet, 10.5 inches. A week after finishing third at the 4A north state meet, three inches is what Simmons improved in his throw at Pearl.
Improving is a big thing for Simmons, who helped lead Noxubee County to the 4A state football title last December. He’s had a busy spring practicing football and throwing the shot. He said throwing the shot helps his explosion as a defensive end, and anything he can do to make himself a better football player is his top goal.
“I’m in the weight room, out throwing the shot and going through spring football,” said Simmons, who is up to 266 pounds. “I’ve probably grown another half an inch. I’m like 6-4 and a half now. Before I got to practice, I go out and throw the shot. Then I go out and go to football practice. It’s not really hard. If it’s something you want to do, you’re going to find a way to do it.”
This past season as a junior, Simmons finished with 107 tackles and 15.5 sacks. He also caused eight fumbles, and recovered five. He said that everything involving throwing the shot was about being explosive.
“It’s all about your hips and that helps with football coming off the end, it’s all about explosion, too,” Simmons said.
There have been a number of college coaches that have stopped by Macon to check in on Simmons. Ole Miss’ Chris Kiffin and Barney Farrar have been by. Alabama has sent coaches. So has Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Louisville.
As for a favorite, Simmons said he didn’t have one, adding that he planned to camp at Ole Miss, LSU and Alabama. In past interviews with other media outlets that cover recruiting, Simmons has put Ole Miss on top.
“I’m going to let it play out,” Simmons said, adding he did see that ESPN.com rated him as the 79th best overall prospect. “That’s really not a big thing to me. I just play the game to play. I don’t really go by the rankings. It’s good to be ranked. I can’t let it determine how I play. I try and not think about it so I can keep playing the way I’ve been playing.”
Noxubee’s boys finished sixth in the state at the 4A track meet. Bigger things are expected from the football team again this fall.
“A lot of people compare us to South Panola because of our winning record because we’ve only lost 27 games in the last 10 years,” Simmons said. “We’re going to try and get back to winning another title. We’ve been working hard this spring.”