NASHVILLE – Dan Mullen recruited Jeffery Simmons to Mississippi State, and he coached him there for two seasons.
After the Titans selected Simmons with the 19th overall pick on Thursday's NFL Draft, Mullen shared some positive thoughts about his former pupil.
"When I reflect on my career, I will always embrace the incredible memories and bond that I share with Jeffery Simmons," said Mullen, now head coach of the Florida Gators. "He lived up to our expectations every day in every part of his life at Mississippi State. While he is certainly an extraordinary football player, his work ethic, determination and commitment to himself, family, teammates, University and community was unmatched."
An All-America performer at Mississippi State on the defensive line, Simmons posted 32.5 tackles for loss, and seven sacks. At the start of the offseason, Simmons was considered a potential top-10 pick.
But Simmons (6-3, 301) suffered a torn ACL doing a routine drill during a workout in February and had surgery. The injury, paired with an off-field incident Simmons was involved in back in high school, led the Titans and other NFL teams to do extra homework on the big defensive lineman.
Titans General Manager Jon Robinson and head coach Mike Vrabel defended Simmons on Thursday night after making the pick, and Simmons said he plans to get out in the Nashville community "so he can show people who he really is."
"He understood and appreciated the second opportunity that was provided to him and delivered on the promises he made to all of us," Mullen said. "Megan and I, along with our children, consider him family. I'm proud to have coached Jeffery and thankful for our friendship."
The Tennessee Titans select Mississippi State defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons in the first round (19th overall) of the 2019 NFL Draft. (Photos: AP, Mississippi State)