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Miami Hurricanes 2021 coach profile: Jess Simpson, defensive line

Coach Simpson is back to facilitate the ‘Canes defensive line into becoming an elite group in the ACC.

Pittsburgh v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Jess Simpson has returned to Coral Gables, FL to serve as the assistant head coach and defensive line coach of the Miami Hurricanes. Simpson comes to The U from the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL.

After his playing career at Auburn ended, Simpson served as a Student Assistant for the Tigers under Pat Dye and Terry Bowden. Simpson then moved to the high school ranks where he served as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Marietta High School, in Georgia.

From 1995-2015, Simpson served as either the defensive coordinator (1995-2004) and then the head football coach (2005-2015) at Buford High School in Georgia. Under Simpson, Buford hit unparalleled heights in football. Buford won the state championship three consecutive seasons (2001-2003) before Simpson took over as the head football coach.

In 12 years as the head football coach, Simpson won seven state titles and 164 games overall. His dominance in the state of Georgia led to a defensive line position at Georgia State in Atlanta in 2016. From there, Simpson was an assistant with the Falcons in 2017.

After the 2017 season, Simpson came to Miami to work with the defensive line. On the 2018 team, Simpson coached defensive tackle Gerald Willis to All-American honors while the defense led the nation in tackles for loss.

Simpson then spent the 2019 and 2020 seasons as the defensive line coach of the Atlanta Falcons before returning to Miami for the ‘21 season.


Simpson brings 22 years of high school, three years of full-time college, and three years of NFL coaching experience. Manny Diaz is the defensive coordinator, but he will be heavily supported by Simpson, Travis Robinson, and Bob Shoop in an attempt to turn the ‘Canes defense around in 2021.

The Miami defensive line has to reload after losing Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche to the NFL Draft. There’s a ton of raw talent at defensive end and experienced players at defensive tackle. Simpson will have to figure out a rotation between Nesta Jade Silvera, Jon Ford, Jared Harrison-Hunte, Jordan Miller and Jalar Holley on the inside. He also has five-star tackle Leonard Taylor at DT.

At D-End, Simpson will likely start Deandre Johnson, the transfer from Tennessee. On the other side it’s a battle and rotation between Jahfari Harvey, Cameron Williams, Zach McCloud, and Chantz Williams. Needless to say, there’s talent on the defensive line, it’s all about development in ‘21.

Expectations: The D-Line will play better fundamental football in ‘21, even if the stats aren’t as eye popping on paper. Simpson is a high school coach at heart which means he’ll focus on take off, hands, and playing gap sound in the defense.