Jeffery Simmons says he regrets punching woman

Will Sammon
The Clarion-Ledger
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Jeffery Simmons in action during the Egg Bowl.

STARKVILLE – Jeffery Simmons, in speaking to the media Tuesday night for the first time in a year, said he regretted punching a woman.

"I live and learn," said Simmons, now a sophomore defensive lineman for Mississippi State, of the March incident. "If I can go back and re-do it all, I wouldn't do what I did. I regret doing it, but I have to live and learn from it."

Mississippi State in June referred to the incident, which was caught on video and widely distributed via the Internet, in a statement as "an effort to break up a domestic fight between his sister and another adult woman," and that Simmons "used physical force against one of those involved in the altercation."

The video showed Simmons, then a senior at Noxubee County, striking a woman multiple times then walking away.

"During the time, I really didn't know I did that and when I actually watched the video, I kind of had a mental breakdown like, 'Dang, this can't be true,'" Simmons said.

MSU suspended Simmons for the season opener last year against South Alabama. Simmons said he met with former athletic director Scott Stricklin, adding that it was Stricklin's decision and that he was "with it," and there was no sense in fighting it.

The conditions of his enrollment last year also required evaluation by the licensed professionals at the university’s Student Counseling Services and the completion of any program prescribed by that office. Controversy surrounded the decision to allow Simmons to enroll. He was a five-star prospect ranked as the No. 19 player in the Class of 2016, according to the 247Sports Composite.

Simmons confirmed that MSU told him he would be monitored closely.

"It wasn't always on me, like, 'Jeffrey, you need to do this,'" Simmons said. "It was just, 'Jeffery, handle your business.' I did what I had to do on and off the field. This first semester, with my GPA, I had a 4.0 ... I was focused. On and off the field, I worry about school and football."

Simmons pleaded no contest to simple assault last July. He was fined $175 for his simple assault plea, and was fined another $300 for being found guilty of malicious mischief. He will also pay over $800 in restitution.

Mississippi State shielded him from public scrutiny as much as it could, denying all requests to interview him. The incident came a time when the public at large has grown increasingly concerned with athletes behaving poorly, especially towards women. Oklahoma's Joe Mixon is the most notorious example, and he was barred from the NFL combine last week because of an incident in his past where he was caught on video hitting a woman. Simmons likely will have the same thing happen to him when he tries to enter the league.

Simmons made 40 tackles, including 3.5 stops for a loss, with two forced fumbles as a freshman.

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