Coach Dad: How Tyrone Shorter helped Titans’ DT Jeffery Simmons reach his potential
MACON, Miss. (WCBI)- The bond between a high school coach and a player can go a long way. For former Noxubee County football coach Tyrone Shorter and defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, that would be putting it lightly.
Simmons was selected by the Tennessee Titans in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft after a successful tenure at Mississippi State. His career started in fifth grade when he was Shorter’s water boy. Shorter was Noxubee County middle school’s head coach at the time. When Simmons was in seventh grade, he saw something in him.
“That’s when he told me I have potential,” Simmons said. “He brought everything to my attention that I could be good at this sport.”
“I told him he was going to be a good player because he was smart,” Shorter said. “He was always around the game.”
The two butted heads when Jeffery wanted to play QB early on, but it made them closer.
“I’ll never forget that day. He punched me in the chest and told me I wasn’t playing QB and I told him I wasn’t playing football. From that moment on I knew Coach Shorter had my best interest,” Simmons said.
Shorter quickly became a key figure in Simmons’ life growing up as he dealt with adversity.
“I didn’t have a father figure growing up. From that point on Coach Shorter filled that role for me,” Simmons said. “When I need someone to talk to or have a question I go to Coach Shorter about it.”
“Jeff called me Coach Dad. He always called me Coach Dad,” Shorter said. “The kid, since high school, never missed one of my birthdays or a Father’s Day and it makes me feel good as a coach to know that I have touched his life.”
Shorter took over as head coach of Noxubee County in 2010. He coached Jeffery in high school and was equally as hard on him off the field as he was on it.
“He always told me to get to class, do your work and don’t be late,” Simmons said.
“I stayed on him. I spoke to him like he was my own son. I knew he had an opportunity and I wanted to make sure that he had everything that he needed,” Shorter said.
Simmons comes back to Noxubee County as much as possible in the offseason to give back to the community. He says Shorter’s ‘use football don’t let it use you’ motto has helped him grow as a player, a man, and made him never forget where he came from. Now, the two have a lifelong bond.
“What I love about the kid is his big heart. He’ll always do anything for anybody,” Shorter said.
“It’s great to have an older man in your life you can depend on to help you reach your potential. Not just in sports but in life,” Simmons said.
The two keep in contact often via text, and Shorter promised Jeffery he’ll attend at least one Titans game this season.