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'A great ambassador' : Local player named national deaf player of the year

For the past four years, Georgia School for the Deaf football coach Eric Whitworth knew he had a star player. And this year, coaches across the nation acknowledged it, too. Thomson resident and GSD Tigers tailback Timothy Simmons was named 2008 Player of the Year and All-American by the National Deaf Interscholastic Athletics Council.

"Timothy is the kind of player a coach dreams about with his attitude, work ethics, leadership, knowledge of the game and behavior on and off the field," Coach Whitworth said.

Coach Whitworth said Timothy was selected for the honor for eight-man football by the NDIAC, which is made up of athletic directors from across the nation. The 5'10, 195-lb., senior also was recognized in the Deaf Digest. Even though Timothy's coach compliments him on his character, the running back's stats make an even bigger impression. In his four years as a starter, Timothy has led the Tigers to a 23-9-0 record, which is an eight-man team record, according to Whitworth. He has amassed more than 10,000 all-purpose offensive yards 7,941 of those in rushing and passing.

"I'd like to say I've missed 49 yards somewhere," Coach Whitworth said with a laugh. "In rushing, he was only 49 yards shy of 8,000 in four years."

The GSD Tigers are one of 24 teams from schools for the deaf that are in the eight-man category. Last year, they were co-national champions with the Arkansas and Minnesota Schools for the Deaf. This year, they were second behind the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind.

The school is located in Cave Springs, just outside of Rome, Ga., and is one of three state schools operated by the Georgia Department of Education. Timothy's football stats combined with the fact that he's the GSD's leading scorer in basketball (averaging 24 points per game), also earned him a spot on the Rome News Tribune's All-Area First Team as an all-purpose player.

"He's the only young man we've ever had to make the Tribune's team two years in a row," Whitworth said.

Timothy has 139 touchdowns to his credit, along with 34 two-point conversions. In defense, he lead the team in tackling for two years, and was in the top five the other two years of his career. He also led the team in fumble recoveries. Whitworth said Timothy had 10 interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns.

"He finished up with a great career. He's one of those players that you wish every one of them was like," Whitworth said.

In the coach's 27-year career, Timothy is the only eighth grader who ever have asked to practice equipment home during the summer and holiday breaks.

"And he's done it every year since then," Whitworth said. "He wore the (harness) slap out. He wore the threads right out of the hook where he used it so much. He's a workhorse."

Timothy's mother said he works out at home consistently and works harder than any of her other children ever did. Not much of a talker, Timothy didn't appear to see the award as a big deal.

"I just played hard," he said. "I think I did a lot better than last year. I think I am happy myself with everything I did this year."

Although his prep football eligibility is over, Timothy said he probably will still be at GSD another year until he passes the state graduation tests. After that, he said he hopes to play college football.

"Timothy will never be replaced, but he has left a high goal for all the future players who come through GSD," Whitworth said. "He has been, and will continue to be, a great ambassador for himself and GSD football. "He was basically like having a coach on the field. The entire team respects him."

Web posted on Thursday, January 01, 2009

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