The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' coaching staff is considered one of the best in the National Football League. Jefferson High School, located just a stone's throw from where Jon Gruden and company lead the Buccaneers through practice, is gaining a similar reputation for its staff, led by Head Coach Mike Simmonds. Both programs have been enormously successful in recent years, thanks in large part to the men with the clipboards.
On Wednesday, September 15, the Buccaneers named Simmonds their "High School Coach of the Week." He brought his fellow coaches and a few players to Tampa Bay's practice Wednesday morning for the presentation ceremony. The group from Jefferson watched practice and toured the facilities at One Buccaneer Place before Simmonds was presented with a framed "Coach of the Week" certificate signed by NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, General Manager Bruce Allen and Head Coach Jon Gruden.
Simmonds was humbled by the honor.
"If you watch last week's game film, you may or may not agree with me being coach of the week," he said. "I'll tell you what, we went down there and beat Chamberlain, and it's a great honor any time I can come back to One Buc. Being a member of the Buccaneer family, it's a great honor to be named Coach of the Week and come back here."
Coach Simmonds is in his seventh year with the Dragons and has led his team to victories over nationally ranked Ponderosa High School (from Colorado) and rival Chamberlain for a 2-0 start this season. He has amassed a record of 56-21 during his tenure at Jefferson and led his team to the state playoffs in five of the past six seasons. After a successful career as an offensive lineman at Indiana State University, Simmonds played one year for the Buccaneers.
A fellow Buccaneer alumnus, Shevin Smith, recently joined Simmonds' staff as defensive backs coach. Simmonds, a former Buccaneer "High School Coach of the Year," attributes Jefferson's success to the work of assistants like Smith.
"Shevin does a great job coaching defensive backs here for us, and I'm just trying to hold on to him before somebody snags him up to play again or coach somewhere else," said Simmonds.
"We have a great staff at Jefferson, primarily because of our continuity. We've been together now for about five years now – that says a lot. All our success is attributed to our staff and the hard work of our players."
In addition to the certificate and football, Coach Simmonds will also receive a $1,000 donation to Jefferson's football program.
If you know a coach that you feel is deserving of being the Buccaneers "Coach of the Week" please click here and submit the name, school, county and reason he or she should be selected.
Several factors are taken into account when selecting the Buccaneers Coach of the Week recipient, including the coach's impact on his team, school and community. The program is designed to recognize high school coaches who transform, through their hard work and dedication to young people, the best available athletes into high-potential football players.
All schools in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Manatee and Sarasota are eligible regardless of size, league or division.