February 19 is locked in, and that is the day high-profile quarterback Ty Simpson will announce his decision.
It will be an Alabama, Clemson, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Texas or Texas A&M hat that the four-star places on his head at 3pm ET at Westview High in Martin, Tenn.
The no. 3-ranked quarterback in the country has an idea which school it will be, but he is not all the way there yet.
“I would say I am about 65% sure on a specific school,” said Simpson. “I still have to continue to talk to the different coaches, I still have to make sure of things, but I am getting close.”
Yes, there is a lot for him, and any recruit with the options like Simpson has to process, but he really broke it down in fairly simple terms.
“I just have to decide if I want to a program and be a guy or go to a program and be the guy. That is what it will come down to in my heart.
“The relationship side of things is important, the offense, and things like that mean a lot, but do I want to go to a program and be a guy, blend in, and win a national championship or go a to program where I could be the guy and help build a school back up.
“That is what I am weighing the most.”
You look at his list, and you can probably figure out which schools sit on which side. Just being a guy, and playing for championships, you have to think schools like Alabama and Clemson for certain. Those schools have been the two most dominant programs in college football this last decade.
Tennessee is on the other side of the Crimson Tide and Tigers, and once again, going through a head coaching change.
Josh Heupel is the new man in charge in Knoxville and the Vols are still in the picture.
“Tennessee is the in-state school, I have a bunch of friends going there, I know players there now, and it would be a great opportunity for me to play for the in-state school and have a chance to be that guy for them.
“It would be a great opportunity to have a chance to bring Tennessee back. That is something I really have to think about.
“I think coach Heupel is a great coach, we have talked numerous times already, and he is a guy I just met, but feel like I have known for a long time. He seems like a great guy, I know he is a former quarterback, and he is an offensive guy, so I could still see myself there.”
Heupel isn’t the only new coach involved in his recruitment on his list of schools. Steve Sarkisian is the other head coach that has been recruiting Simpson, and “Sark” left Alabama as the offensive coordinator to take over at Texas. That made the Longhorns a player immediately.
“Coach Sarkisian has been recruiting me for a long time. I think he has been talking to me since my sophomore year, so we know each other well, we have a great relationship, and he is a coach that showed really early interest in me.
“As soon as he went to Texas, he stayed in communication, and he is a great coach, with a great offense, so I like Texas a lot. It is a great program with a well-known brand, that has won championships, and now coach Sarkisian is there, so I am considering them.”
Of course Simpson is considering the school Sarkisian left too. Bill O’Brien has come into Tuscaloosa to take over as the new offensive play-caller for Nick Saban, and the Crimson Tide have been considered one of the front-runners for some time.
This change did not effect Simpson’s interest.
“I have been talking to coach O’Brien a lot now, and at first, it was about us getting to know each other, but now we have gotten into more things about him as a coach, player development, and things like that,” said Simpson.
“He has coached Tom Brady, Deshaun Watson, and other great quarterbacks, so he knows how to coach. We have talked about those guys, his offensive plan, and I know if I go to Alabama, it will be a pro-style system, and I would have a chance to prepare for the NFL.”
The other two SEC schools in the mix are schools Simpson has special connections to. His uncle played at Ole Miss, and Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher’s son plays for Simpson’s father at Tennessee-Martin.
“Ole Miss is home for me. I have been there so much, I still have family there, and it would be awesome to play there. I would be close to family, I would play for a school I grew up following, and to have the chance to play for Kiffin and coach Lebby would be great.
“Coach Fisher is someone me and my family are close to, and I am close friends with his son. It would be really cool to play for coach Fisher with his son playing for my dad. Coach Fisher is not just a family friend, but a great coach, a coach who can develop quarterbacks, and I really think he is close to winning a championship at Texas A&M.
“Both A&M and Ole Miss are special schools too me, and I like them both a lot.”
The lone school not in the ACC is Clemson. Dabo Swinney, Brandon Streeter and the staff there has made Simpson feel comfortable from the beginning.
“There is something about Clemson that makes them feel a little different,” said Simpson. “The coaches are just great guys that do things different. There is nothing I can say about Clemson except for it all is great.
“It is a great town. It is a great program. It is great football. They do things the right way and it is easy to like them.”
Simpson had a little it of a lull in recruiting, and things slowed a bit over the holidays, but they have quickly picked back up. He’s had Zoom calls with the different schools since early January, he is in daily contact with different staff members, and now he is set to commit next week.
“I thought about this for a while, and I really didn’t make the decision to commit this month until right when I pushed the button to tweet it out,” said Simpson. “I am just ready to get it done. I still have to make the final decision, but I am getting there.
“We don’t know what is going to happen next with visits or anything else, and I was at one time thinking about committing in April, so with nothing changing between now and then, I want to go ahead and get it done this month.”
You may wonder why February 19, and if that has a special meaning to Simpson. Well, it kind of does, but it wouldn’t be a big day in a normal time.
But we are still in the middle of a pandemic.
“My dad is the head coach at Tennessee-Martin, and his team starts their season February 21, so I chose the 19th to get it done before his season starts. I did not want it to be on his mind or any type of distraction for him.
“I will be ready then.
“I am happy and sad when thinking about it to be honest. I will miss the relationship part, and talking and texting with all the different coaches, but that is part of the process.
“I am excited about being committed though, because once I am committed, I am locked in. I will not talk to other schools. I will not take other visits. I will be done with the recruiting process.”