Tyler Simmons was named one of Kirby Smart’s Game 9 players of the week — even with a diminished role.
The senior wide receiver made the list of six under the special teams category, despite dealing with a recurring shoulder injury. His initial injury took place last season against Missouri and came back with a shoulder brace versus Vanderbilt.
Simmons began this year without the brace, but it was quickly put back on after he agitated his shoulder with two minutes left in the first quarter against Arkansas State this season.
Instead of allowing the injury to ruin his senior year, Simmons has stepped up as an example to younger players and earned himself the special teams player of the week award in the process.
“[I am] just playing my part,” Simmons said. “I know where I fit in, and I know what I am supposed to do. I know the plays that I [do] get in, I am going to have some type of effect on the rest of the offense.”
Simmons said his injury is a different one than his teammate Lawrence Cager. Simmons is having trouble with his labrum and shoulder coming out of place.
Georgia’s offense is working with Simmons and allowing him to still have an impact despite injury. He has maintained this ability to contribute by playing in every game this season, even with a bulky brace accompanying him.
“Playing with the brace, it was of course difficult trying to raise your arms and catch the ball as a receiver,” Simmons said. “[The offense] knows my limits. They know what I can do so they aren’t making me do anything outside of that.”
Simmons has had 10 receptions so far this season. His longest was a 33-yard snag against South Carolina, but his presence has been felt more on special teams. On eight punt return attempts, Simmons has returned the ball for a total of 134 yards. His furthest was a 42-yard return versus Murray State.
“He believes he can play, and he deserves to play if he goes out there and works hard [and] locks in,” redshirt freshman tight end John FitzPatrick said. “He just sets a good example for the rest of the guys.”
With a senior year that did not turn out as Simmons had planned, he is trying to make the most of the hand he has been dealt. He believes he only has two options: He said he can sit out and miss opportunities or play the game and take advantage of those moments.
“At the end of the road I feel like there’s still a plan for me,” Simmons said. “Everything happens for a reason. Of course I got down on myself for a little bit but you just have to keep pushing and you’re either going to dwell on the past or keep pushing for a better future.”