When he quarterbacked the UT-Martin Skyhawks from 2011-2015, Jarod Neal, his head coach, remembers Jason Simpson's son hanging around the program and working out with the other signal callers at times during practice.
Just a young kid then, Ty Simpson would ultimately make a connection with his future coach at Westview High School.
"He would come around and hang out and do some drills with us," Neal told BamaCentral. "He did some things that were not normal for an elementary kid to do. As I have been around him more and more this past season, it was like our third or fourth game of the season. He threw for over 300 yards and ran for another hundred. I thought then, 'OK, he's different than every one else.'"
Fast forward nine years and Simpson is now a blue-chip prospect in the 2022 recruiting class who committed to the University of Alabama on Friday afternoon over Clemson, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and his father's Skyhawks.
Now a rising senior, the dual-threat signal caller is coming off a junior year where he completed 61 percent of his passes and threw for 1,888 yards and 20 touchdowns and only four interceptions in a season shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the ground, he added over 300 yards and seven additional scores, leading Westview to the second-round of the playoffs in the Volunteer State.
"Ty has great athleticism," Neal said of his star quarterback's ability. "His arm talent is off the charts. He can make any throw he wants. His competitive drive and football IQ is much higher than most high school athletes in general."
As the son of a college coach, Simpson has had the benefit of learning more and more about football by being surrounded by it 24/7. To put it frankly, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound prospect has been molded by it.
"The biggest thing that comes from that is the IQ," Neal said. "He sees things and knows more about football than most high school players normally know. What he understands football-wise is a testament to his work ethic and his dad being a college coach. Being able to have those conversations at home have helped his growth and development all the way around."
Even as a high-level national recruit since Simpson was a freshman, Neal has been smitten by his leadership ability and how he motivates his teammates year in and year out.
"He's been voted a captain by his teammates every year and he has embraced it," Neal said. "He's done a great job of leading in the right way, not being demeaning or ugly or mean to his teammates but he's pulled them along with him rather than tear them down."
According to Neal, what put the Crimson Tide over the top in the race for Simpson's services was its pitch from the coaching staff that focused on player development plus a chance to win a national title and compete at the highest level.
"At Alabama, you are going to have a chance to win a national championship every year," Neal said. "You are going to be able to play with the best players every year and have an opportunity to win every single game. That's been part of it and the fact that Alabama's development is focused on getting you to the next level of playing football and whenever you are ready to make that jump, they'll have you ready to go."
Simpson was originally heavily recruited by former Alabama assistant and current Texas coach Steve Sarkisian, but since Bill O'Brien stepped in as offensive coordinator the relationship with the Crimson Tide has only gotten stronger.
"I don't think anything really changed," Neal said. "He had a good relationship with Coach Sarkisian but it really was Coach Saban that wanted Ty in the first place. He's gotten to know Coach O'Brien since he has taken the job. Alabama was always at the top because you have a chance to play for the best team in the country."
With his commitment now out of the way, it's time for Simpson to fully turn his attention to his senior year, ensuring the Chargers make a deep playoff run in 2021.
"I want him to keep working in the weight room like he is doing now," Neal said. "Getting stronger and showing what work ethic looks like to our younger guys. From a leadership standpoint, he needs to continue to get guys to rise to his level and he doesn't need to fall to theirs."