Dan Mullen defends decision to accept Jeffery Simmons

Mullen 'thrilled' to have Jeffery Simmons at Mississippi State (0:49)

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen defends the decision to enroll Jeffery Simmons at Mississippi State and look forward to having the chance to work with him. (0:49)

HOOVER, Ala. -- Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said "we're all responsible" when asked what might happen if Jeffery Simmons, the freshman defensive lineman who was shown on video punching a woman several times during a fight in March, makes another mistake.

"If that happens, all of us are [responsible]," Mullen said Tuesday while at SEC media days. "But to be honest with you, I'm responsible for the actions of every one of my players. I'm responsible as a head coach. I can't be with them all the time."

Mullen called the decision to admit Simmons into school "a university decision."

"I wasn't involved as much," he said. "I was just thrilled that we're having Jeffery as a part of our family."

On the topic of family, Mullen was asked how he would feel if a member of his family, such as his wife or daughter, was the person who was punched.

"I don't think it would be my family," he said. "In the video, I don't know if my family would be in that situation."

Pressed on the subject, Mullen said: "Honestly, I'm very strongly against any violence. ... I think the video does not really define who that young man is. I would hate for anybody, for their life to be defined ... by 10 seconds of video."

Simmons, from Macon, Mississippi, enrolled at Mississippi State earlier this summer. He received a one-game suspension for his actions, and he still faces misdemeanor simple assault charges from the fight and is scheduled to appear at Macon Municipal Court on July 26.

"I think when you have a situation like that happen, you have to do a great deal of investigation," Mullen said. "[We] did a massive investigation into everything and talked to all kinds of people, not rushing to judgment on a short video and investigated every aspect of the situation. When we went through all of that, I think everybody involved in looking at it felt he still deserved an opportunity to go to college, get an education and try to better his life."

Simmons was ranked the No. 12 defensive end nationally and No. 4 player overall in Mississippi by ESPN Recruiting. As part of his conditions for enrolling at Mississippi State, the university said he would be evaluated by professionals at Student Counseling Services and be required to complete any program prescribed by that office.

Simmons will also have to sit out the Bulldogs' Sept. 3 opener against South Alabama. Mullen said university officials determined the length of Simmons' suspension.

The mother of the woman who was punched by Simmons told ESPN in March that she was attacked as the result of a long-standing dispute between her daughter and his family. Ellen Hairston said her 30-year-old daughter, Sophia Taylor, suffered head and neck injuries after Simmons and others repeatedly struck her.

"He has done everything that has been asked of him since he's been on campus," Mullen said. "I've known him well before the incident, and I think that it was very uncharacteristic of the personality of who he is and the person I've known before and after. I think it was a young guy that was involved in a family street fight that made a very, very poor decision."