Josh Kendall

Jeffery Simmons expected to make college debut against Gamecocks

dmclemore@thestate.com

Jeffery Simmons, who was the talk of SEC this summer, will again be a hot topic Saturday when South Carolina takes on Mississippi State.

That’s because Simmons, the five-star freshman defensive end, is expected to make his collegiate debut against the Gamecocks. Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen won’t commit to putting Simmons on the field Saturday.

“We’ll see what happens Saturday,” Mullen said. “We’ll make a decision come game time.”

The truth is that the decision to play Simmons was made a long time ago. It was made this summer when Mississippi State decided to suspend Simmons just one game even after a video surfaced of him repeatedly punching a woman who was laying on the ground. The school took a lot of very justified heat for only suspending Simmons one game, and it’s sure to be back in the news Saturday because Simmons’ one game was served last week against South Alabama.

South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp wouldn’t touch the Simmons’ subject with a 10-foot pole when asked this week.

“We’re just preparing for a very physical defensive front,” he said.

Senior Gamecocks linebacker T.J. Holloman said he’d never heard of Simmons, but South Carolina’s offensive linemen have, junior tackle D.J. Park said. Offensive line coach Shawn Elliott mentioned to the group this week that Simmons will be making his collegiate debut.

The ethics of allowing Simmons to play so early aren’t the biggest concern for South Carolina’s players this week. Simmons himself will be plenty hard to handle. At 6-foot-3, 277 pounds, he was ranked the nation’s No. 19 high school prospect regardless of position last year in the 247Sports.com composite rankings.

Teamed with Al Jefferson at the other defensive end, Simmons could be a problem for lots of SEC teams. South Carolina gets the first shot.

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