MSU's Simmons declares for the NFL Draft

Jeffery Simmons

Staff Writer

It has looked apparent for a while now that Mississippi State junior defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons was likely headed to the NFL after this season.

On Thursday, Simmons made that official.

Simmons announced with a letter released by MSU that he will forego his senior season at MSU and enter the 2019 NFL Draft. It’s the culmination of a comeback story for Simmons, who signed with the Bulldogs in 2016, then was allowed to enroll and play for MSU despite an ugly incident caught on camera shortly after he signed.

“Not everyone gets a second chance, but I am so grateful I did,” Simmons said in the letter.

Simmons was charged with simple assault in March 2016 when a video surfaced of an altercation in which he struck a woman multiple times. Simmons later pleaded no contest to the simple assault charge and was found guilty of malicious mischief.

Simmons was suspended for the first game of his collegiate career, among other conditions, but went on to excel on and off the field at MSU. He’ll now carry all that with him into the NFL Draft.

Simmons will play his final game in maroon and white in the upcoming Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day. He made the decision to go ahead and announce his plans to enter the NFL Draft so he doesn’t become a distraction later.

“It’s been an ongoing situation,” Simmons said after practice Thursday. “I’ve been thinking about it and talking about it with my family and my uncle. It just felt like it was the right time to make the decision.
“I want to go (to the Outback Bowl) and focus on the bowl game. I don’t want to get down there and have everybody (asking), ‘Are you leaving?’ Like I said, it’s the right time so it’s no distractions with me or my teammates.”

Simmons was recently given All-American honors by both the Associated Press and The Athletic following his outstanding 2018 regular season. He was also picked as a first team All-SEC selection by the AP and league coaches.

Along with being tied for fourth in the SEC in tackles for loss this season (14.5), Simmons was one of only three interior defensive linemen in the SEC with 20 or more quarterback hurries. He did all this despite drawing frequent double teams.

If his on-the-field prowess wasn’t enough, he was also a two-time member of the SEC’s Academic Honor Roll.

He’ll go down as one of the best defensive players in Mississippi State history. Before then though, he’s looking forward to one more game as a Bulldog come the Outback Bowl.

In an era where several players projected to be high NFL Draft choices sit out bowl games, Simmons is doing the opposite. He says he’s doing it for his teammates and for himself.

“I’ve been through a lot with these boys,” Simmons said. “Since I’ve been here as a freshman, we’ve been through so much adversity and that just shows how much we love each other. For me to play in this game, I know how much it meant to these guys, and it meant a lot to me. I love these guys, too. It’s a big thing for me not to sit out these guys’ game.”