ATHENS — Spend five minutes talking to Georgia senior receiver Tyler Simmons, and you can understand why any coach or quarterback would want the ball in his hands.
It’s clear Simmons is going to be successful at anything in life he chooses after football, but right now the senior captain is focused on helping the Bulldogs win a championship.
Simmons is willing to do anything for his team — and he has — from his special teams expertise, to his downfield blocking and leadership in the receivers room.
But football is not always fair, and Simmons has had the misfortune of playing most of the past two seasons in a shoulder brace that has limited his range of motion. There’s pain, too, but Simmons accepts that’s part of the game.
“Of course, it’s football, (pain) comes with the game,” said Simmons, who injured his shoulder the second game of the season. “You can either sit out and miss those opportunities, or you can go and do what you can do.”
This was supposed to be Simmons’ season to breakout and use his elite speed to make plays with the ball in his hands.
Instead, he’s dealt with the regret of missing a pass in overtime against South Carolina that ended up in the hands of a Gamecocks defensive back.
Simmons talked to the media for the first time since the difficult loss to South Carolina.
Simmons took full accountability while providing insight into Georgia’s biggest game of the season, a 3:30 p.m. match with Auburn in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday.
On how he has dealt with adversity of this season
TS: “At the end of the road there’s still a plan for me, everything happens for a reason. Of course I got down on myself for a little bit, but you just have to keep pushing. You’re either going to dwell on the past or keep pushing for a better future, and that’s what I’ve been doing, keeping a positive mindset and telling younger guys that are stepping up to play, to take advantage of those opportunities because that’s big.”
On the role teammates played in Simmons bouncing back
TS: “It happens, it’s part of the game, I took my eyes off the ball and that’s what happens. That was the consequence, dropping the ball. Of course I learn from my mistakes and just try to move on and get better. It is (hard to get over) but as I said, at the end of the day, you can either dwell on the past or get better for the future.
“(Teammates) gave me a lot of support, of course they were mad at first, like anybody would be, but they were there to pick my head up when I was down, and tell me to get better for the next opportunity. I’ve been doing a great job blocking and on special teams, and just playing my part and taking advantage of my opportunities on the field.”
On what comes to his mind this week with the game at Auburn
TS: “2017, on the road, the energy there, the fans, the environment, how Auburn feeds off the crowd. Just honing in on the details and staying focused. We do a lot of crowd noise during the week to prepare ourselves for that and Jake (Fromm) is doing different things to stay in control of the snap count.
“(2017 crowd noise) I feel like it really did (affect us) and the way they fed off the energy of the crowd, it kind of demoralized us and they took off with that.
On how teammate Lawrence Cager has emerged despite a shoulder injury
TS: “He’s definitely not missing opportunities. He’s live and well at practice, he’s moving around great, and he’s been great this week. He’s made some big plays and we’re looking to him to play this weekend.
“I think he’ll definitely be on the field and it’s great having Cager out there. He’s great on third down plays, he’s always made them since he got here. That’s his game style, he takes pride in being one of the best receivers in the SEC and he takes pride in not many DBs in the SEC being able to guard him. He really enjoys the game and he loves helping the team and he does that any way he can.”
On if he has talked to George Pickens about his emotions, and what Pickens brings
TS: “I’ve talked to Pickens just because I know he was committed there for a minute, and I know his emotions are going to be going wild, and we’re going to need him to make some big plays, so I’m telling him to stay level-headed and hone in on details and do what you need to do.
“George brings a lot of energy — a lot of energy — he is the energy of the receivers room. He comes in, he’s always in a pretty good mood, and he comes in and he loves football, he loves the game of football. He loves coming in and watching film, he’s just a student of the game.
“Seeing him make those plays, it kind of encourages other guys to bring juice and make it a competition a little bit. You see George make a play and kind of celebrate, and it’s, now I want to make a play and celebrate. So he brings competition and energy.
“(Talking) is just a part of his game. He likes to get in the DBs heads, he likes to do a little talking now and then, and that’s just a part of his game and how he keeps himself going. I don’t have any problem with it as long as he’s making plays and he isn’t doing anything to hurt the team.
“He was pretty understanding about the whole situation, he’s not a bad or defiant kid, so he’s pretty understanding about what I had to say to him.”
On how the team is handling and views the CFP Rankings
TS: “We kind of look at it as a distraction right now. We just try to focus on every week, and focus on getting better. Try to block all the outside things out and just hone in on the details. Coach Smart emphasizes that a lot, just honing in on us, we don’t worry about the outside sources. We just want to get better and focus on us.”
Simmons was one of the team’s Players of the Week after the Missouri game.
— Coach Kirby Smart (@KirbySmartUGA) November 11, 2019