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A Visit with 4-Star QB Ty Simpson and his Westview High Coach, Jarod Neal

A Visit with 4-Star QB Ty Simpson and his Westview High Coach, Jarod Neal

OXFORD, Miss. — Amidst the rolling hills in West Tennessee lies the place I like to describe as where the Midwest meets the Southeast way of life. Just 130 miles northeast of Memphis and 150 miles northwest of Nashville is the town of Martin — home to Ty Simpson, the No. 2 dual-threat passer in the country for the Class of 2022 per the 247Sports Composite.

What most likely comes to mind when one hears of this place is the University of Tennessee at Martin, home of the SkyHawks. Like most towns in this neck of the woods, you will find a rich history of sports and culture woven into the fabric of the community.

And in this community, the Simpson family just might be on its way to becoming the first family of Martin. Ty’s father Jason is the head coach at UT Martin. The elder Simpson is the longest-tenured coach in the Ohio Valley Conference, transforming the program into one of the winningest teams in the OVC since his first season in 2006.

Ty, a 6-foot-two, 185-pound, 4-star dual-threat quarterback out of Westview High School, already has over 40 offers, including every single school in the SEC as well as other schools like Clemson, where he and his family recently visited, and Oklahoma, Baylor, and Penn State.

Simpson was also on hand in Oxford last month to see Matt Corral shred the South Carolina Gamecocks’ defense for a school-record 513 yards. Simpson liked what he saw, telling 247Sports: “Ole Miss has definitely caught my eye. Their offense is so explosive and fits me so well.”

Elite Football Network praises Simpson for his many skills:

Ty possesses a strong arm that routinely throws the ball downfield 50 yards plus. He has a smooth delivery and a quick release. Has outstanding pocket presence, awareness, and movement. You can tell he is well-coached in the nuances of playing quarterback. Ty has the ability to extend plays with his feet and does well with off-platform throws. He is extremely accurate all over the field and can make any throw. Ty can be a Power 5 starter very early in his career.

In addition to the accolades he continues to rack up, Ty’s versatility makes him one of the preeminent QBs in 2022. Roger Staubach, Randall Cunningham, Steve Young, and Fran Tarkenton….those quarterbacks were more than just commanders on the gridiron. They were the players who added a new dynamic to what it means to be a dual threat, and they did so even before there was such a term. Those types of legends don’t come around every day.

But once in a blue moon, you find a young man like Ty who has speed, quickness and athleticism, one who can run the ball well and pass with precision. And these particular talents are why all eyes are on West Tennessee.

It cannot be easy to sit as one of the nation’s top prospects and handle all the pressure that brings, much less do so as the son of a highly-regarded college coach, but Ty Simpson is managing it all just fine and is making his own mark on the game.

Learning from the best

For Ty Simpson, football is more than ‘Friday Night Lights’ or a deeply-rooted family tradition. It is a journey on which he is making his own name. With the help of those who know and love the game as much as he does, Ty is learning lessons from both his father and his high school coach, Jarod Neal.

We recently had a chance to visit with Ty Simpson and with Westview High School head football coach, Jarod Neal. Here’s what they had to say:

Westview High School Head Coach Jarod Neal

The Rebel Walk: Tell us about your football playing and coaching background?

Coach Neal: I started playing football at age seven and was lucky enough to play in college at the University of Tennessee at Martin. I played Quarterback. I’m in my 5th year of coaching. The first two years I was the QB coach and pass game coordinator, the 3rd and 4th year I was QB coach and Offensive Coordinator, and I just finished my 5th year, first as a head coach.

The Rebel Walk: What is your football philosophy?

Coach Neal: My football philosophy is pretty simple. On Offense, you have to find ways to get your best players the ball in space to give them a chance to make a play. Defensively, you have to be gap sound and tackle the football. Special Teams, you cannot make mistakes and make sure you get the ball back.

The Rebel Walk: If you could make a hashtag to reflect recruiting in 2020 from a coach’s perspective what would it be?

Coach Neal: #NUTS

The Rebel Walk: What has been the biggest adjustment you have had to make during this time to help keep your team going and getting your players developed for their recruiting journey?

Coach Neal: Our biggest adjustment we’ve had to make is altering our workout schedule. Practices didn’t have to change very much because once we got going, we got into our routine. The development of the players going into the start of the season was the hardest hurdle to jump.

The Rebel Walk: You are no stranger to the recruiting process, not just as a former college QB but now as a coach. Do you think this pandemic will change the process for recruiting, especially at the HS level in the upcoming years and how?

Coach Neal: I think it will change it some. Zoom meeting, I believe, will become a normal thing for college coaches to use with HS recruits. Virtual tours will also become a normal thing. Those will only add to the in-person portion of recruiting. They will not replace anything.

The Rebel Walk: They say things come full circle and this sure seems to be the case here. What has it been like to coach the son of your former college coach, Jason Simpson, and run a similar offense?

Coach Neal: I did play for Coach Simpson at UTM. It has been surreal sometimes being back in the town I called home for 5 years during college, and being known in this different capacity has been exciting for myself and my family.

It has been nice to have Coach Simpson as a resource when needed and the offense we run is similar to what UTM runs so there are easy conversations that take place.

The Rebel Walk: Ty Simpson has grown up in this sport, what about him sets him apart from other top dual-threat QBs in his class?

Coach Neal: Obviously, he has the athletic ability, but I think his football IQ is what will set him apart from others. He knows more about this game than most HS athletes his age. Most people don’t know what he knows about the game until they reach the college level but it helps having a college coach at home.

The Rebel Walk: What kind of program do you see an athlete like Ty thriving in?

Coach Neal: I see him thriving in a program that will utilize what he can do best, throwing and moving the pocket, giving him options. Run-game wise, he is good when it comes to zone and power/counter reads. Designated designed runs do work with him but is better when it comes to those type of plays in the run game. Passing-wise he can handle and will thrive in any of them.

The Rebel Walk: As his coach and as a former college quarterback, what advice have you given to Ty to help him in this recruitment?

Coach Neal: Biggest things I have told him when it comes to this is, what feels like home? And where could you see yourself going if you weren’t playing football? And what school has the major you would like to do as a career? I say those because eventually football does end, could be 5 years or 15 but eventually it does end and he has to have a plan for that.

The Rebel Walk: What is your advice to other student-athletes during this unique recruiting time?

Coach Neal: Be patient, it’s not a normal time and not a normal year so be patient and it will work out.

The Rebel Walk: What is your go-to song before a game or and to open up a practice?

Coach Neal: Before games I listen to country music. It is my favorite genre and also calms me so my mind can be clear for the game.

Quarterback Ty Simpson

The Rebel Walk: Ty, what is your football philosophy?

Ty Simpson: I love the game. I never want to leave it.

Ty Simpson (6) passes against South Gibson. (Photo: STEPHANIE AMADOR / THE JACKSON SUN)

The Rebel Walk: What has been been the biggest adjustment in your recruiting process during this time?

Ty Simpson: Not being able to see coaches face to face and perform for them.

The Rebel Walk: What has been one obstacle you have faced during this time? What is one thing you feel has made you a better recruit/athlete as a result of limitations during this pandemic?

Ty Simpson: Being able to maintain a great weight lifting program. I have gotten stronger and my body has rested.

The Rebel Walk: Only a handful of recruits can say they have grown up in this sport and had a front-row seat to not just the game, but also the recruiting process. How has watching your dad at the college level and through the recruiting of his own players helped you in your journey?

Ty Simpson: It’s helped me so much, I understand everything that is going on from a college standpoint.

The Rebel Walk: What are you looking for in a school and a program?

Ty Simpson: A place where I can thrive and make my dreams come true.

The Rebel Walk: In what sort of program do you think you can thrive?

Ty Simpson: A program where they can take me to the next level.

The Rebel Walk: As one of the nation’s top QB prospects in 2022, what do you think sets you apart from other players and why a program wants an athlete like yourself?

Ty Simpson: My knowledge for the game and my ability to throw the football from any arm angle.

The Rebel Walk: What are the things you enjoy outside of football?

Ty Simpson: Hunting and fishing and golf.

The Rebel Walk: What song do you play before a game or practice to get in the zone?

Ty Simpson: “More than my Hometown”

The Rebel Walk: What advice do you have for other recruits out there trying to distinguish themselves?

Ty Simpson: Block out the outside noise. Your tape is your job application.

West Tennessee Waltz

If you’re a kid in the South, there is probably a good chance you have learned a waltz of some sort. You’re probably wondering why the heck I am mentioning waltzing in a football column. Well, when I watch a kid like Simpson play, it’s like I am seeing perfectly precise movement across the field. His ‘West Tennessee Waltz’ on the gridiron is exciting, and I know Rebels hope it makes its way to this side of the Mississippi River.

Hotty Toddy!

About The Author

Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo

Lee Ann is the Director of Recruiting for The Rebel Walk. She is a veteran SEC sports journalist and NFL content writer. She is also the Sr. Editor for MESPORTS digital. Herring-Olvedo is a Brown University graduate who loves good cigars, good games, and a smooth glass of bourbon — not necessarily in that order.

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