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Jimbo Fisher's son, Trey, on path to coaching greatness

In a summer spent trying to balance player health and preparation, Jimbo Fisher receives a text with a video clip quite unlike any previous message.

It’s Jason Simpson sharing a few seconds' long-distance video, through an office window, of Trey Fisher, Jimbo’s son and Simpson’s freshman quarterback.

Aside from Trey, no one else is on the football field on the University of Tennessee at Martin campus, a rural farming school in the University of Tennessee system known for its collegiate rodeo program and bowtie-wearing, selfie-snapping chancellor who’s helped spur an enrollment that's grown three consecutive years.

Trey's working drop-backs, reads and sets for a season that now isn't going to start across the majority of the Football Championship Series until 2021; the scheduled season another offshoot of COVID-19.

The text stems from July; Jimbo Fisher recalls it with clarity on the first day of October.

“I do remember and that video, it almost brought a tear to my eye,” Fisher tells FootballScoop.com. “When your kids are away from you, you say they're with you, but how can you know? He's still keeping the same dedication he for things wants. Just proud he's willing to work at it, and willing to put the work in and do it. Trey's always been that guy, I mean he's always been that guy.”

Several years ago, dateline Miami, Simpson remembers Trey Fisher's approach not in recruiting him to Martin but in a summer competition also featuring Simpson's son, Ty, a 2022 consensus four-star quarterback prospect with offers from Alabama, Clemson, LSU and Tennessee, to name but a few.

“How it came about that we picked up on Trey is Darrell Dickey, the quarterback coach and offensive coordinator now at Texas A&M,” says Simpson, a former baseball and football player at both Mississippi State and Southern Miss who's now the dean of OVC coaches entering his 15th season. “We do have a recruiting base in Florida, and he said, 'I'm telling you, you need to check on Jimbo’s son, Trey.

“Then Ty was playing 7-on-7 in Miami, and Trey was there as well as quarterback for his 7-on-7 team. So I was in person what Trey was about before we ever started recruiting him.”

FOOTBALL WITH THE FISHERS

Trey Fisher already knows enough about coaching to admit copycatting another system is the largest small circle in football; in his case, the now-defunct EA Sports NCAA College Football video games.

Those games are home to the Xs and Os the younger Fisher laughs about sketching and asking for his father to run in games, from Jimbo's stints at LSU and Florida State, prior to his present post atop Texas A&M.

“I used to draw up little plays,” Trey says, “and try to get them to run them in his games. He’s ran them, maybe with a different name, but it's just a basic play that everybody ran.”

Adds Jimbo, “Trey has been under my feet, as they say, from the time he could possibly be there. He loved studying ball. I ain't joking, 4-5-6 years old, he'd come in and sit in my lap to watch film and talk film. He wanted to see guys from practice that he was around. You could see he started evolving into the game in so many ways, and as a coach, you're never home enough. I loved it.”

In shrinking the football community a bit tighter, this tale sees Jason Simpson coaching a coach's son and quarterback in Trey; Jimbo Fisher is recruiting a coach's son and quarterback in Ty, who has an Aggies offer.

Both coaches lean on the parenting moments.

“The first time I called Trey, you could just hear his passion for Xs and Os, playing the quarterback position,” says Simpson, like Jimbo Fisher, also a former quarterback. “I kind of caught myself when I called other recruits and then it was like a breath of fresh air calling Trey, because it was like talking to a young graduate assistant who wanted to talk protections, systems and more.

“They came on an unofficial visit the summer before Trey's senior year, and I’d met Jimbo a couple times before, had taken Ty to Texas A&M to a one-day camp, and that relationship had developed. But it was just cool to see Jimbo be a dad and take an early visit for his son.”

A CALL TO COACHING

UT-Martin offers 35 undergraduate degree programs, with myriad specializations within those programs.

It does not offer a coaching major, much to Trey's chagrin. Fathoming any other career path simply is not possible for the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder who is transitioning through this COVID-19 season into a spring schedule in the OVC.

“I'm majoring in sports management,” Trey says, “but I’m just trying to get a degree.

“I know I want to go be a G.A. (graduate assistant) for my dad, learn his offense, how he coaches, and hopefully even implement some of my own stuff. I like the stuff we do a lot here with Coach Simpson. Hopefully I can make my own thing off of it and learn as I go. I don’t have a set path or school, I just want to go where I can and make it the best I can wherever I’m at.”

Trey's double-vision – seeing the game as both quarterback and coach – is hard-wired into the former Godby High School (Tallahassee, Florida) standout who threw for more than 4,600 yards and 49 touchdowns in his prep career.

“He is wired a certain way,” says Simpson, a three-time FCS Coach of the Year finalist. “I think about my mindset as a freshman quarterback understanding fronts and coverages and protections, and I kind of laugh about what I knew being a G.A. to what Trey knows as true freshman. And I hope whoever coaches Ty kind of sees some of those same characteristics in Ty that I see in Trey.”

“You don’t win on game day, you win on preparation,” Trey says, coach-speaking his way through a phone interview with the sincerity of a freshman congressman. “Dad’s definitely a perfectionist when it comes to that, and it's one thing I've definitely taken from him. He prepares.

“And I’m not saying I didn’t get a lot from him, but the whole walk-through before practice, that was Joe Montana that used to do it all the time. He would do it every day before practice. So I picked that up from a documentary he had and from my dad.”

Jimbo's lost 33 times as head coach; he's won 101 games. A reflexive grimace, with undeniable support, is his approach to his son's future in coaching.

“Oh Lord, find something else to do,” Jimbo laughs, before circling around in his rapid-fire staccato. “I joke about that.

“He's consumed with it, and when you're like that, you know what your future is going to be. It's just fun that it means so much to him.”

Yes, there's a guaranteed spot for Trey Fisher on Jimbo Fisher's staff in four years.

“He has shared that with me, and yes I would,” Jimbo says. “Two reasons, one he would be around me, period. I love being with him. Just watching him grow and helping him grow, and be a part of it myself, so he can have a future in this game. It would be a tremendous privilege and honor. And the other thing, I know I'm going to get an unbelievable worker who is dedicated, loves the sport and has a tremendous relationship with people. …

“He truly doesn't want to do anything else. He's extremely hard-working and dedicated to what he does. He doesn't mind if it takes 10 hours, 12 hours, 14, 18. Very intelligent. He understands the game. He has tremendous people skills. He's honest, always giving you his opinion. Always has the ability to communicate with people.”

Sometimes, though, a text between football coaches and fathers conveys what words cannot paint.

“Jimbo texted back,” Simpson says of the video, “'Man, he loves it. That’s the way he’s wired.'”