COVINGTON, Ga. — It was as if Nicholas Simmons knew he was being talked about.
Right when Alcovy football coach, Chris Edgar started speaking on the slippery pocket presence and the sometimes-funky (in a good way) release that his backup-turned-starting quarterback has, and his ability to get the ball out fast, Simmons executed a play during a late fall practice that essential said, “Let me show you what he’s talking about.”
Simmons dropped back, side-stepped a defender and then shot a side-armed rocket of a pass to an Alcovy receiver that felt perfectly in his hands.
Such types of plays are what excites Edgar about Simmons, who took over signal calling duties for the Alcovy offense midway through the season after a shoulder injury sidelined fellow junior quarterback Cameron Anderson.
“Nick just finds ways to make plays,” Edgar said. “He’s got a pretty live arm for his stature and a really good, quick release. He’s not just going to sit back there and take a big hit. He can make the throws. He’s deceptively fast. And he’s done everything we’ve asked of him, given the situation that he was thrown into.”
Simmons saw his first action in a 43-10 region loss to Evans on Oct. 6. In that game he went 11-for-24 passing for 89 yards and a score.
“We just wanted him to get his feet wet and do somethings to get him comfortable and manage the game for us,” Edgar said. “He’s really known the offense all
He almost helped lead the Tigers to region wins the next week against Lakeside, a crushing 16-14 loss, and then two weeks later in a furious comeback effort against Heritage.
In that game, Simmons connected on 24 of his 38 passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns, although he also threw three picks. For the season, the 5-foot-11, 150-pound junior passed for 537 yards and seven scores, giving Edgar some potential options next season when it becomes time to prepare in earnest for the 2018 season.
“It definitely gives us depth there to have to really capable guys who can win games for us at the quarterback position,” Edgar said. “It’s not a bad problem to have. Nick has known the offense from the beginning, even before starting.”
That didn’t stop the butterflies from coming for Simmons, however. When Anderson went down and it became apparent that Simmons would have to step in, he acknowledged having some shakiness about it all.
“I was pretty nervous,” Simmons said. “It was my first time getting as a Friday night quarterback, so I was really nervous. But probably like the first couple of drives after I got the start, I got comfortable and just took it as another game.”
Simmons also admitted that his preparation for the game had to change once he settled into the starting role. But that’s something the quarterback relished anyway.
“Honestly, I had to watch more film,” he said. “When I was second string I didn’t have to watch much film. I just sat around and watched Cam do his thing. Now, when I was starting, I had to go in and do exactly what he did.”
But now that a battle for starting quarterback may ensue between Anderson and Simmons, Simmons said that during the season he never saw Anderson as his competition or as someone to battle against. He said Anderson was a the consummate mentor for him as he learned the ropes of handling a starter’s pressure.
“He’s always made me, like when I was down, he made me feel better and get my head back up,” Simmons said. “If I did something wrong, he taught me how to fix it. It’s helped me become a better quarterback. I think we will help each other.”