There had been a lot of hubub about the collegiate destination of one Ty Simpson, five-star quarterback for Martin-Westview.
Simpson was on the radar screens of several high-profile programs, including Alabama and Clemson … oh, and yeah, Tennessee. He was a guy former Vols’ coach Jeremy Pruitt wanted, but Pruitt and his collection of characters from McDonaldland were handed exit visas by University of Tennessee-Knoxville chancellor Donde Plowman last month.
Did that change his trajectory? Maybe. I’m not sure we’ll ever know for sure, unless somewhere down the road he offers some candor about the process. My guess is that Pruitt’s dismissal didn’t have a whole lot to do with it.
Come on, did you see Tennessee’s offense and quarterback production last year? Besides, the quarterback room is pretty full in Knoxville these days.
My guess is that, in the final analysis, it came down to Clemson and Alabama. Both have potential landing spots in the starting lineup for a five-star recruit as well as a proven record for winning championships. Let’s be honest, Alabama coach Nick Saban and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney have more rings than Saturn.
So why not Tennessee? Let me put on my Captain Obvious epaulets. The Vols are in a mess and are likely facing probation and a bowl ban in the next two years or so, maybe sooner. All this may happen irrespective of what kind of sanctions Tennessee imposes on itself. Say what you will of the Josh Heupel hire; whether you like him or not, Tennessee won’t be sniffing a national title anytime in the near future. The Vols will struggle to catch a whiff of a winning season for the next few years.
Alabama will consistently provide Simpson with NFL-quality linemen, No. 1-draft-pick receivers and Heisman-contending running backs. In the process, Simpson himself, may one day be a first-round pick. It also stands to reason that the kid will have a chance to play for, and win, at least one national title, maybe more, if he stays there for four years.
If Tennessee wants to build a fence around the state’s recruits, it’s going to have to do some housecleaning and start winning, first. Twenty years ago, the Vols may have landed someone like Simpson.
Now the best it can do is land Heupel.
I wish Simpson the best in his future endeavors. He made the right choice.
Editor’s note: Jim Steele is a correspondent for Magic Valley Publishing and host of The Pressbox, which airs 4-6 p.m., Monday-Thursday on WRJB 95.9 FM, Camden.