Family perspective: Simpson's parents weigh-in after Alabama visit
Julie Simpson has a unique perspective many mothers do not have as they help guide their children through the recruiting process. She is the mother of Ty Simpson who is Alabama quarterback commitment and the No. 27 overall player in the country according to Rivals. She is also the wife of UT-Martin head coach, Jason Simpson.
She completely understands the football aspect and knows one day when Ty will want to jump right into the coaching profession with he hangs up his cleats. The family moved to Martin, Tennessee when Ty was around 3-years old. Two more children followed with a daughter, Emma, and another son, Graham.
Ty and his father took several recruiting visits and attended camps prior to the COVID-19 pandemic including a handful of trips to Alabama. His mother did not see the Tide's campus prior to this past Tuesday. She made sure to take it all-in to get a great understanding of her son’s future life in Tuscaloosa where he will begin his college career in January.
"It was wonderful," Julie said of her first visit to Alabama. "It was great getting to see the facilities, meet different coaches and everyone involved with the program. It was good to put a face to a voice.
"Everyone was so welcoming. It's just such a pleasing environment. It was the first time I was able to do a tour of any kind of tour at Alabama. I did not do any of the Zoom tours. We also got to spend a lot of time with the coaches and everyone who is involved with the program."
The first impressions were everything Ty's mother had hoped, and it even exceeded her expectations. The comfort level she has with sending her son to the University of Alabama next year is at an all-time high.
"Everything was just amazing," she said. "There are no other words to describe it other than it's just a well-oiled machine. The standard there has been set. They all want to live up to that standard. Everyone wants the best for the players. It was very evident.
"I hate to say it, but sometimes it's just a recruiting pitch, but Alabama is extremely genuine. It's really important to them to get the players graduated and also make sure they leave as a good human being. It's evident from the entire coaching staff. It's not all about football which really makes me feel good.
"The campus is beautiful. The facilities are immaculate. Anything you can think of that a player might need they have it there. It's very reassuring as a parent. I sometimes look at it from a coach's wife's perspective. I probably look at it more from a coach's wife's perspective. It left me with no worries for anything he will ever need."
Football is a major part of the Simpson's life, but academics play a critical role. Julie, who has also worked as an educator, knows the importance of earning a degree. She probably did not expect to have a pop quiz during her visit with Ty to Alabama earlier this week. She was happy to answer questions which will help her son when he enrolls in Tuscaloosa.
"The academic part is very important to me," Julie said. "It is at the top of my list. I have complete peace of mind after going through everything on Tuesday. They wanted to address every aspect of Ty on the academic side.
"How well does he study? What are his stress points? They explained different ways they can help him. They grilled me as much as they did him. They know as a parent you know him more than anyone. What pushes him over the edge? What encourages him? That really pleases a momma's heart."
The recruiting journey can place a lot of stress on any family and especially one of a highly-recruited player. The constant phone calls with college coaches, pressure to stay in-state, fans giving their own advice through social media, pressure from the local community, and much more. A lot of people might not like the athlete’s college choice.
Simpson was the top quarterback target on several recruiting boards, and there were some tough days when trying to make the best decision for his future. His parents were with him every step of the way.
How did the parents feel in advance of Ty’s decision Alabama was the pick?
"The absolute difference was his body language and the respect commanded during every single phone call (with Alabama)," his mother said. "He would sit up during every phone call, he would take a shower and make sure he looked presentable every time he spoke with Alabama. It wasn't always like that with other schools.
"We knew before he did that he was going to choose Alabama just based on the respect commanded towards Alabama. When he told us that it was Alabama and that's where he is supposed to be we already knew. We were prayerful that he would make the right choice. I secretly already bought him some Alabama stuff before he told us that's where he was going to go.
"It was a very stressful process. We have been so proud of him. He got an ulcer during his recruitment, and I think it was from all the stress that was on him. It was getting ridiculous. We are in a social media driven world, and it adds to the stress. Everyone is given a voice. Anyone can say this or that. Anyone can recruit from their couch, but in the end you have to do the right thing and Ty was able to do that."
Jason Simpson has been the head coach at UT-Martin since 2006. He is the longest tenured head football coach in the Ohio Valley Conference. Coach Simpson spoke with BamaInsider prior to his son's commitment to Alabama. He had traveled with Ty to Tuscaloosa on several prior occasions.
Coach Simpson and Ty hit the road on June 1, the first day recruits were allowed to visit college campuses, to spend a few days at Alabama. The father-son duo spent time visiting with the coaches and around the facility on Tuesday. Ty had the opportunity to throw for Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien and Nick Saban on Wedenesday.
"What I came back and told my staff that was so unique and impressive was the expectations Coach Saban has during camp," Coach Simpson said. "They are out there coaching kids like they are on their roster. Whether it's for these kids to get the 'Alabama experience' or to find out who can handle this type of coaching. It was unique to watch. It's the standard."
The Tide's first camp of the summer brought more than 350 athletes to the practice fields to compete and showcase their talent. Alabama knows Ty can throw the football. It's the intangibles that will determine his status as the starting quarterback in the next years for the nation's top college program.
"Ty did fine out there," his dad said. "I would imagine most of the guys who they bring out there can throw the football. It's kind of like guys who are out at batting practice hitting home runs. The question is can he get first downs in 11-on-11 situations? Will he make the right decisions when the game is on the line?
"I don't think Ty will have a choice (on handling the pressure/expectations of being an Alabama student-athlete). You either accept that or you're not going to be happy. What was great to me about being down there is just being around other players and seeing their acceptance of others.
"It's kind of a deal where you have all good players who were heralded coming out of high school. If someone chooses Alabama these guys there know it's a hard place to play. The challenge is playing for Alabama. You are not the top dog anymore. It creates a brotherhood and an environment that you want to be a part of.”
Recruits, families, coaches all visit Alabama and understand it is the mecca of college football. There are many who want the blueprint for how to sustain the long-term success of the Crimson Tide and Nick Saban. Alabama spares no expense on its facilities and most have been updated and additions have been made in the last two years.
Many try to sell its features: stadium, locker rooms, training rooms, weight room, recovery room, nutrition program, food hall, dorms, campus. Alabama has created one of, possibly the best, environment in that regard. It has little to do with the success of the program. Alabama is successful because of the people at the helm and everyone (coaches, administrators, players, etc.) who buy-in and have the mind-set to always get better.
"It was the first time we had been inside the facilities in two years," Coach Simpson said. "It was the first time since 2019 that we had a chance to sit down face-to-face with Coach Saban. All the top places will have great facilities. Alabama is like DisneyLand when it comes to college football.
"You go to a lot of places and you see a lot of nice facilities. I wish we had some of those resources (at UT-Martin). Some really talk about their facilities and everything they have there, but it's not what Alabama is trying to sell. It's not their recruiting pitch. It's what Alabama has, but it's not what makes their culture.
"Coach Saban really downplays that. There is a method to the madness of what Coach Saban has done to create the culture of Alabama. The culture at Alabama eliminates entitlement. That's probably the No. 1 thing I see."
Ty Simpson will return to Tuscaloosa with his high school team next week (June 18-19) to compete in a 7-on-7 tournament held at Alabama. He will also return for an official visit (June 25-27). Simpson will compete in the Elite 11 in Los Angeles (June 30-July 3). His family who supports him in every aspect will join him.