Simmons, Bulldogs take cautious approach this spring

Mississippi State's Jeffrey Simmons, middle, talks to teammates last season.
Staff Writer

Jeffery Simmons is watching and waiting his turn.

Mississippi State’s star defensive tackle is a bit limited this spring as he recovers from an offseason surgery to repair some damage to his left shoulder, but that doesn’t mean the former Noxubee County standout is taking things too easy these days.

“I’m still learning the new defense,” Simmons said. “We do the walk-throughs and I’m one of those guys that does a lot of things mentally anyway, so I’m sitting on the sidelines, looking at the play-calling.
“I’m learning off the mistakes that others are making and really still learning the defense.”

These days, Simmons is relegated to wearing the yellow jersey at MSU spring practices, indicating he isn’t full-go. He is participating in position drills and doing other things, but for now, contact is off limits even if Simmons does kind of long for it.

“We’ve talked about it,” Simmons said. “I’m ready for contact right now, but they’re not going to let me do anything. I’m just trying to stay healthy and get (my shoulder) all the way back healed up. I probably won’t do any contact this spring.”

Simmons describes his shoulder ailment as minor. It’s nothing he or MSU is overly concerned about. In the words of Simmons, “a little piece of the labrum (was) chipped off” necessitating some clean-up.

He said the discomfort started early last season after the LSU game, but he played through it. Even injured, Simmons went on to have a season in which he was selected to the All-Southeastern Conference first team. He won a pair of SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week awards last year and finished the campaign with 60 total tackles – a dozen of those were for loss. He also had five sacks, forced and recovered two fumbles and blocked three kicks.

By all indications, Simmons will be fully healthy and ready to get back to his game-changing ways in plenty of time for action this fall.

That’s bad news for opposing offenses, because Simmons is just a part of one of the SEC’s most talented defensive lines.

“We’re loaded up front,” Simmons said. “We have tremendous depth and guys that actually want playing time. Right now, we talk about it everyday. It’s going to be hard to pick who is going to start and who is going to get the playing time. Everybody is going to play, but it’s a battle right now.”

As the internal competition rages on this spring, Simmons is content to have to sit out for some of it. It’s tough for him, but it’s fine he says. He knows his time to shine will be here soon enough.

“Right now, it’s just being cautious,” Simmons insists.