Signing Jeffrey Simmons shows Dan Mullen is capable of recruiting with the best recruiters in the country.
Jeffrey Simmons could have gone to any program in the country. He was a consensus five star prospect across all of the recruiting services, and figures to be a difference maker along the defensive line for the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Dan Mullen.
Signing Jeffrey Simmons was not going to be an easy task for Dan Mullen and his staff. He had to go up against numerous schools once he was identified as an elite level player as a junior. And when Simmons announced his final three, Mullen had to square off against two of the best recruiters in the country in Nick Saban and Hugh Freeze. That’s why getting Jeffrey Simmons to sign with the Bulldogs is the best Mullen has done as a recruiter in his seven years at Mississippi State.
There would be some who would argue landing Chris Jones in the 2013 class was a superior effort from Mullen. They would argue Jones was the higher rated prospect. Jones finished the 2013 recruiting year as the number two overall prospect and Jeffrey Simmons was the 19th overall prospect. Plus, holding off Ole Miss to get Jones to sign was as fierce as any recruiting battle most of us have ever seen take place between Mississippi State and Ole Miss.
But the biggest difference between signing Chris Jones and Jeffrey Simmons is the fact Simmons has always been viewed as one of the best prospects in the state and in the country. After his junior season in high school, there wasn’t a coach in the country who didn’t know Simmons was a gifted defensive end. Chris Jones was only recruited early on by Mississippi State. It wasn’t until Jones made it to several different camps in his senior season that other schools and the recruiting services started to take notice.
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Holding on to Jones was an impressive feat to say the least, but Mississippi State was always going to have a huge advantage with Chris Jones. They were the first school to identify him, and they did it long before anyone else ever took notice.
Making the signing of Jeffrey Simmons even more impressive was Simmons was primarily recruited by Tony Hughes throughout most of his recruitment. When Hughes left Mississippi State to take the head coaching position at Jackson State, the Bulldogs had to adjust. David Turner, the Bulldogs defensive line coach, had helped in the recruitment of Jeffrey Simmons, and became a key factor in getting the heralded player to sign with Mississippi State.
Even though Tuner played a big factor for Simmons choosing the Bulldogs over the Rebels and Crimson Tide, it has always been the head coach who has to seal the deal. Dan Mullen pulled off one of the biggest surprises of National Signing Day when Simmons chose the Bulldogs. Almost everyone who covers the recruiting trail believed the five star defensive end was choosing between Ole Miss and Alabama.
But Dan Mullen made a strong push at the end. Much like the rumors of the Bulldogs losing Scott Lashley to the Crimson Tide started swirling the night before the four star offensive line prospect committed to Alabama, there were rumors swirling Mississippi State had a much better chance than originally thought to get Simmons to sign. Dan Mullen needed Jeffrey Simmons desperately for this class to add as close to a can’t miss difference maker as they come, and Mullen was able to beat out Saban and Freeze for the defensive end.
If you’re a Mississippi State fan who has longed for Mullen to recruit in the same neighborhood as virtually every other team in the SEC West, signing Jeffrey Simmons should give you hope. If he did it with Simmons, he can do it again in the years to come.