Matt Simms still a leader for Vols

University of Tennessee quarterback Matt Simms throws the ball as the team warms up for a scrimmage on Saturday, April 9, 2011.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

University of Tennessee quarterback Matt Simms throws the ball as the team warms up for a scrimmage on Saturday, April 9, 2011.

Matt Simms rarely has minced words.

When the Tennessee quarterback arrived, he spoke openly about welcoming competition.

After winning a three-way battle and taking over as the starter heading into last season, he embraced a leadership position and the pressure that came with it as the face of the Vols without ever sounding intimidated by it all.

And when he ultimately lost that job midway through the season, Simms certainly didn’t hide his emotions in a heated postgame media session at South Carolina.

In just a little more than a year since transferring to UT from junior college, Simms has experienced a pretty broad range of highs and lows. And though his role with the Vols has changed significantly throughout that time leading up to his current backup spot behind Tyler Bray, his seemingly open opinions haven’t at all — which might make it hard to question Simms when he claims there’s nowhere else he’d rather be.

“Maybe a few people were surprised that I was here (in the offseason), but I wasn’t going around asking people what they thought,” Simms said early in spring camp. “I want my teammates to know that I’ll be here no matter what, whether I’m doing well personally or not. This is a team sport, and it’s about the University of Tennessee and not about me.

“To be honest with you, I feel like I could go anywhere right now and play, but I don’t want to. I want to stay here, and I want to play quarterback at Tennessee. I’m just going to wait until my number is called.”

The Vols made clear before practice resumed that he would be second on their list behind Bray, and based on conversations he had with coach Derek Dooley after the season, that wasn’t breaking news for Simms.

But instead of fleeing campus or pouting, Simms instead helped organize offseason throwing sessions and threw himself into UT’s strength program — earning respect from his teammates for the former and praise from the coaching staff for the latter.

“Without a doubt, he’s a leader on this football team,” quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw said. “He’s done a good job, he works his tail off and in the offseason, he was one of the guys that got an MVP for how hard you work. He leads this team.

“You know, everyone looked to him on our offseason workouts and everything. He was working hard, and he’s putting forth the effort to continue to get better, continuing to work hard and do the best he possibly can when he gets his reps.”

Simms might not be getting as many reps as he’s used to lately, thanks mostly to the arrival of early enrollee Justin Worley. Over two scrimmages, Simms has attempted just 23 passes — completing 10 for 107 yards with two interceptions.

That total is six fewer than Worley has to his credit heading into the final week of practice, according to statistics provided by UT, though there could be any number of ways to account for the difference. But regardless of how the snaps are being distributed, Simms publicly pledged long ago to do whatever is asked of him as he waits for a chance to reclaim the job he once held — and he can’t be accused of breaking that vow now.

“I mean some days it’s tough,” Simms said. “You just want to get out there and just play and play and not stop. Hey, we’re young guys, it’s tough. We’ve been playing this game since we were real young, and we just want to get out there and be the guy. Sometimes there’s some bumps in the road and you’ve just got to overcome them.

“I can say one thing, and I’ve been through a lot of adversity and I’m here for my teammates no matter what happens.”

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward

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Comments » 74

VolInIndy writes:

props

tree_em_smokey writes:

I like him a lot more now! Way to be a "team" player Mr. Simms! GBO!!!!

rdrgtr writes:

I would guess since he has made three different stops in his college career with only 1 year left to play, it only makes sense for him to stay and hope for the best. I do like his attitude now. In reality, he his only one snap away from being the starter. I am sure at some point in this season he will take some meaningful snaps.

The_Mayor writes:

The guy took a beating last year against the SEC's best. I love Bray, but give credit to Sims for all he's done. No one will ever know how Bray would have held up against Florida, Bama, LSU et al. The only way we'll see Sims again is if Bray gets hurt, and I don't want that. GBO

Huttdawg100 writes:

I'm proud of Simms. He stood in through the toughest part of our schedule. Bama, Florida, LSU, and Oregon. We need him.

I'm really disgusted with Desmond Howard and his comments regarding Matt Simms. Phil Simms did exactly what a father should.

SEC1 writes:

Stay ready because stick man won't last long.... if he gets out of gainesville in one piece that will be a miracle

The_Mayor writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

I'm proud of Simms. He stood in through the toughest part of our schedule. Bama, Florida, LSU, and Oregon. We need him.

I'm really disgusted with Desmond Howard and his comments regarding Matt Simms. Phil Simms did exactly what a father should.

stellar comment across the board!

pridebone writes:

Way to be a team player, Matt. That's what being a VOL is all about. Hope his work ethic and attitude can spread to the rest of the team. If it can, then we'll be a team with few stars, but a LOT of young guys that work really hard, that care about Tennessee, and who give 110 percent each snap. They'll keep each other accountable off the field, and hold each other up on the field. If that can happen, Tennessee will win 9 games during the season this year, including an early season win against Florida. Mark it.

givehim6 writes:

I and i'd say most in Volland are glad to have you as #2. All it would take is Bray to get one bad hit and your the man. Besids the NFL draft is just little over one year away, be sharp when you get a chance.

Vol_in_exile writes:

Just going by face value, seems like he's got a lot of character to me.

I like Bray, I think he did a good job last year, and I have high hopes for him. But I also thought the games he won at the end of the season were against easier opponents than those we lost with Simms at QB early on. (And one of them a very near miss on the road against a top-5(?) ranked SEC team.) Simms took a pounding early in the year, too, as the very young OL got experience. Tough for me, anyway, to see what's happened to him.

Ironcity writes:

in response to SEC1:

Stay ready because stick man won't last long.... if he gets out of gainesville in one piece that will be a miracle

SEC1 don't worry about us hurting Brantly, we want as much of him as we can get.

SEC1 writes:

in response to pridebone:

Way to be a team player, Matt. That's what being a VOL is all about. Hope his work ethic and attitude can spread to the rest of the team. If it can, then we'll be a team with few stars, but a LOT of young guys that work really hard, that care about Tennessee, and who give 110 percent each snap. They'll keep each other accountable off the field, and hold each other up on the field. If that can happen, Tennessee will win 9 games during the season this year, including an early season win against Florida. Mark it.

cinny= toss up
gators= 7 in a row
ga=l
lsu=l
bama=l
sc=l
mtsu=w
pigs=l
vandy=w
kentucky=w

maybe back to the music city or autozone bowl in memphis with a lot of luck... write it down

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to SEC1:

Stay ready because stick man won't last long.... if he gets out of gainesville in one piece that will be a miracle

Doesn't look like Brantley's going to make it through the summer:

http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/04/09...

Tennessee fans have seen a similar situation. In spring 2008, Crompton and our offense struggled when we changed offensive philosophies. It was the old "square peg in a round hole" clichè. That sums up Brantley in the spread offense. Now he's going to a pro style offense. It's going to take time to adjust, and I don't think he'll make the adjustment by 9-17-11, the day the streak ends. GBO.

Vol_in_exile writes:

I was born & raised a UT fan, and am an alum. I certainly want what's best for the team. But for those complimenting his team attitude, remember also these kids often come here for a shot at the pro's. Being #2 on the depth chart as a senior doesn't enhance those chances. I wish he'd get his NFL chance -- though I certainly don't wish any ill on Bray.

tree_em_smokey writes:

Remember when Ambles jumped ship and we lost a "high profile wr". Lane got the short end of the stick it seems! Ha ha ha!

http://sports.espn.go.com/los-angeles...

dvols writes:

matt gave his all last year through the gaunlet of the competition.....no ol, no offense, no hope......thanks matt!

acworthdave writes:

in response to tree_em_smokey:

Remember when Ambles jumped ship and we lost a "high profile wr". Lane got the short end of the stick it seems! Ha ha ha!

http://sports.espn.go.com/los-angeles...

Another great example that sometimes it is not smart to recruit only the top players without taking into account their charater. I hope he turns his life around at his next school.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to Vol_in_exile:

Just going by face value, seems like he's got a lot of character to me.

I like Bray, I think he did a good job last year, and I have high hopes for him. But I also thought the games he won at the end of the season were against easier opponents than those we lost with Simms at QB early on. (And one of them a very near miss on the road against a top-5(?) ranked SEC team.) Simms took a pounding early in the year, too, as the very young OL got experience. Tough for me, anyway, to see what's happened to him.

Vol_in_Ex
You have it right. I really like Bray and I should. He's from an area I raised my own kids. But I like Simms very much, he played his heart out last year and there is no comparing the toughness of the first half to the last half of the season. I don't see them play day-in and day-out nor do I have a plan for what is best for UT. But I don't see Matt as a lesser QB to anyone, just not the best for this system in the long run.

Munsterlander writes:

Good stuff.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to Vol_in_exile:

I was born & raised a UT fan, and am an alum. I certainly want what's best for the team. But for those complimenting his team attitude, remember also these kids often come here for a shot at the pro's. Being #2 on the depth chart as a senior doesn't enhance those chances. I wish he'd get his NFL chance -- though I certainly don't wish any ill on Bray.

I'm with you.

gillblog writes:

in response to SEC1:

cinny= toss up
gators= 7 in a row
ga=l
lsu=l
bama=l
sc=l
mtsu=w
pigs=l
vandy=w
kentucky=w

maybe back to the music city or autozone bowl in memphis with a lot of luck... write it down

Seems you've made what we used to call some "typos".

cinny=w
gators=toss up
ga=w
lsu=w (as my HS coach once told me; "sometimes we get overcome just by names" and after last year's botch there's almost no hope for the cajun folk)
bama=l
sc=w (sorry, but those guys are overrated)
mtsu=w
pigs=another tossup...w/o Mallet nobody knows what they will do)
vandy=w
ky=w

pridebone writes:

in response to SEC1:

cinny= toss up
gators= 7 in a row
ga=l
lsu=l
bama=l
sc=l
mtsu=w
pigs=l
vandy=w
kentucky=w

maybe back to the music city or autozone bowl in memphis with a lot of luck... write it down

Unless I'm wrong, you conveniently left off a few teams.

Vs. Montanna = W
Vs. Cincinatti = W
@ Florida = W
Vs. Buffalo = W
Vs. Georgia = L
Vs. LSU = W
@ Alabama = L
Vs. South Carolina = W
Vs. MTSU = W
@ Arkansas = L
Vs. Vanderbilt = W
@ Kentucky = W

Gators will struggle with a new coach, no matter how "great" his name is. QB in a new system will be a rocky start, with a Rocky Top in Gainesville. Georgia and Arkansas play for SEC title, Tennessee goes to Capital One Bowl.

VOLliven2it writes:

in response to SEC1:

cinny= toss up
gators= 7 in a row
ga=l
lsu=l
bama=l
sc=l
mtsu=w
pigs=l
vandy=w
kentucky=w

maybe back to the music city or autozone bowl in memphis with a lot of luck... write it down

What an intelligent post SEC1. I suppose you are assuming the NCAA will allow us to have only 10 games. You are a real winner for sure. I believe there will be 12 games. And if you claim they are weak opponents then go to your team's big year and subtract the cupcakes or stay off our board.

CleveVol writes:

Let's hope Matt's attitude is not only sincere but infectious. If the entire team buys into this mentality, the mental giant who predicted it'll be a three or four-win season will be conveniently absent here on New Year's Day.

VOLliven2it writes:

It is yet to be known how Tyler Bray will do against the big gun defenses in the SEC. I am hoping he does as well as many expect. If he had started early last year, one of two things would likely have occurred. One is he would have been hammered and injured. Secondly, he would have played poorly and lost confidence. Matt Simms hang in there and if he never plays another down, which is unlikely, he deserves some credit for hanging tough when opposing defenses and some critical fans hammered him.
Go Bray, Go Simms, Go Big Orange!

UT2006 writes:

got to hand it to Simms on this one... tons of character, I hope it pays off for him somewhere down the line... also makes you wonder how much Dooley had to do with it, maybe there is something to be said about doing things the right way... lets just hope he can win some games

keepitreal4vols writes:

in response to SEC1:

Stay ready because stick man won't last long.... if he gets out of gainesville in one piece that will be a miracle

You reckon a Gator basketball player will pistol whip him and take his cleats?
Or will he get eye gouged at the bottom of a pile?
Or maybe Louis Murphy will punch him with a bottle of Viagra pills clutched in his fist?
Or will the radio announcer lock him in the bathroom and give him the choir boy treatment?
And lets just hope several Gators don't get confused and mistake Bray for their girlfriends or a beating will most certainly take place.
Reckon Carlos Dunlap will be drinking and sleep driving that night? Gotta watch out for his vehicle.
And Better hope Bray doesn't get pushed out of bounds and Charlie Weis falls on him.

I agree, it might be a miracle if Bray isn't seriously hurt.

MrBamSeydu writes:

in response to SEC1:

cinny= toss up
gators= 7 in a row
ga=l
lsu=l
bama=l
sc=l
mtsu=w
pigs=l
vandy=w
kentucky=w

maybe back to the music city or autozone bowl in memphis with a lot of luck... write it down

I absolutely, 100% guarantee that this is not accurate.

We will go 8-4. We will beat LSU and UGA, guaranteed.

tree_em_smokey writes:

in response to keepitreal4vols:

You reckon a Gator basketball player will pistol whip him and take his cleats?
Or will he get eye gouged at the bottom of a pile?
Or maybe Louis Murphy will punch him with a bottle of Viagra pills clutched in his fist?
Or will the radio announcer lock him in the bathroom and give him the choir boy treatment?
And lets just hope several Gators don't get confused and mistake Bray for their girlfriends or a beating will most certainly take place.
Reckon Carlos Dunlap will be drinking and sleep driving that night? Gotta watch out for his vehicle.
And Better hope Bray doesn't get pushed out of bounds and Charlie Weis falls on him.

I agree, it might be a miracle if Bray isn't seriously hurt.

Ha Ha Ha..... post of the month!!!! LMAO!!!!

VolNWA writes:

in response to SEC1:

cinny= toss up
gators= 7 in a row
ga=l
lsu=l
bama=l
sc=l
mtsu=w
pigs=l
vandy=w
kentucky=w

maybe back to the music city or autozone bowl in memphis with a lot of luck... write it down

7 in a row, huh? You really think the Vols will now beat the Gators 7 years in a row, nice!

VolNWA writes:

Competition only helps. Simms works harder to get his spot back, Bray feels like he must work harder to get his spot back.

BigVolFaninSC writes:

Matt Simms, you are a true VFL! Keep your head up and be ready come this fall as you will always be one play away from the field! Whether you get to play or not, you are making all of us proud of you as a team player! I KNOW that your dad is proud of you, too! GO VOLS!!!

Govolsinmemphica writes:

We are in good hands if Bray is hurt. I like Matt Sims. We might have the best backup in the country. As Coach Fulmer would say "We are very fortunate to have Matt."

orangecountyvols writes:

SEC1,

You are really good.........great in fact, at showing your rear end.

As most trolls do.........

theoldbear writes:

in response to Vol_in_exile:

I was born & raised a UT fan, and am an alum. I certainly want what's best for the team. But for those complimenting his team attitude, remember also these kids often come here for a shot at the pro's. Being #2 on the depth chart as a senior doesn't enhance those chances. I wish he'd get his NFL chance -- though I certainly don't wish any ill on Bray.

Remember Pat Ryan? #2 on the depth chart, seldom started at UT or in the pros, but had a long and lucrative NFL career.

TNVol71 writes:

Matt, thanks for being a true team player. As one of the earlier posts stated, I hope that attitude about putting the team first is contagious with the rest of your teammates. Here's hoping you and the rest of the new era Vol squad have a great spring that turns into some super wins this fall. VFL!! GBO!!!

Govolsinmemphica writes:

in response to Euro_Vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

He could go to your mother's house and play :)

Govolsinmemphica writes:

I have to admit that comment Matt made about being able to go ANYWHERE and play....It makes you wonder if he was hanging out with Eric.

ChrisUTvol writes:

in response to VOLliven2it:

What an intelligent post SEC1. I suppose you are assuming the NCAA will allow us to have only 10 games. You are a real winner for sure. I believe there will be 12 games. And if you claim they are weak opponents then go to your team's big year and subtract the cupcakes or stay off our board.

How about he just stay off our board period.Does the Florida people not have their own boards.

ctownvol writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Exactly. He's like an annoying little featherweight boxer. He just jabs and runs. Such a d-bag.

easleychuck writes:

in response to FLVOL79:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Didn't you hear, Publix canned him. He is on buggy detail at Food Lion.

utk1996 writes:

The best way for Bray to improve is for Simms to compete. I really admire Simms for his unselfish, team-first attitude. He's a winner in my book. I like Bray a lot and think he has a lot of potential, but Simms played against MUCH tougher competition. If you reversed their roles last season, I think the results would have been similar.

Scuba_Curt writes:

in response to SEC1:

Stay ready because stick man won't last long.... if he gets out of gainesville in one piece that will be a miracle

If he completes a pass and does that childish stupid "loco" thing he does, he'll wind up in more pieces than Humpty Dumpty.

EMBuckles writes:

I think that someday, Simms is gonna follow in his Daddy's footsteps and be quarterback in a Super Bowl probably winning it. And you just know that all the defenses are gonna be after Bray, trying to put him in the hospital, so Simms could get in some playing time this year. As for the potential record, I am thinking that this team will likley be in the Capital One Bowl, as suggested above, with a better win record that last year. And, who knows? Like "Boomer" on ESPN says, "They - could - go - all - the - way!" GO VOLS!!!

Vol737 writes:

in response to SEC1:

Stay ready because stick man won't last long.... if he gets out of gainesville in one piece that will be a miracle

UT O line will handle FLA and protect Bray just fine. FLA was getting worse game by game with supposedly great talent. I would be worried if I were a Gator fan.

VolsToTheWall writes:

in response to easleychuck:

Didn't you hear, Publix canned him. He is on buggy detail at Food Lion.

nah man, he got fired for stealin buggies to put all his belongings in. I think I heard he picked up a part time job cleanin the underside of Charley Weiss' manboobs, but God knows that deserves a full time position

Vol737 writes:

in response to pridebone:

Unless I'm wrong, you conveniently left off a few teams.

Vs. Montanna = W
Vs. Cincinatti = W
@ Florida = W
Vs. Buffalo = W
Vs. Georgia = L
Vs. LSU = W
@ Alabama = L
Vs. South Carolina = W
Vs. MTSU = W
@ Arkansas = L
Vs. Vanderbilt = W
@ Kentucky = W

Gators will struggle with a new coach, no matter how "great" his name is. QB in a new system will be a rocky start, with a Rocky Top in Gainesville. Georgia and Arkansas play for SEC title, Tennessee goes to Capital One Bowl.

I disagree. I say we smash UGA and run em' out of the stadium this year. Coaching at UGA is questionable. LSU toss up. Agree on the rest.

Vol4EVA writes:

Great attitude Matt! Stay sharp. Keep competing. The team will be better because of it and you will be better because of it. The season is long and things can change suddenly for a myriad of reasons. Be ready!

Go Big Orange!...I'll hang up and listen to your comments..

UsoCRAZY writes:

Simms has certainly gained my respect. And I hope if his chance comes he knocks it out of the park. That said he has stiff competition in Bray who could arguably have the most potential of any QB in the SEC.

PHAT_VOL writes:

Simms ran for his life a lot last year behind the young offensive line. But hung in there and no doubt had to be hurting a lot. Winners never quit and Quiters never win. Something good will come his way. I think we need to give a little love to the coaching staff here to. GO VOLS !!

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