98 Degrees star former BC football playerBy Tim Stried, SID
October 10, 1999
SPECIAL TO: Area Media
What does the current pop sensation band 98 Degrees have in common with Bluffton College football? Stay tuned for a story that Casey Kasem might not even know.
If you are one of the billions of people around the world that follow the Billboard charts and listen to current pop music, then no doubt you have heard of the band 98 Degrees. And if you happen to be one of the millions of fans that go to bed every night staring at a poster of the group on your wall, did you know that one of guys staring back at you once wore a Bluffton College football uniform?
That's right, and his name is Jeff Timmons, founder and lead singer of the four-man band from Ohio that is currently booked all over the world and selling albums in volumes that earn awards called gold and platinum.
Born April 30th, 1973 in Canton, Jeffrey Brandon Timmons graduated in 1991 from Massillon Washington High School, where in addition to dabbling in music Jeff was a member of the football team. As a senior, Jeff's name came across the desk of BC head football coach Carlin Carpenter as a potential recruit, and after a few letters Timmons decided he was coming to Bluffton.
Although his 5'8" 160 pound frame now makes girls scream, it didn't exactly earn Jeff much playing time on the football field as a 147 pound defensive player for the Beavers in the fall of 1991. However, BC assistant coach Denny Phillips recalls Jeff's enthusiasm on the field. "Jeff was a great kid to coach," said Phillips who has coached at BC since 1989. "He would play about any position you asked him to, even defensive line!" continued Phillips.
Carpenter echoed Phillips comments. "Jeff was a tough, hard nosed player," said the 21 year BC head coach. "He was smart and had a good field awareness. He would have been in our defensive plans as a sophomore."
Timmons stayed just one quarter at Bluffton, transferring to Malone College were he tried the football program there, as well. It became clear, though, that Jeff's future wasn't in football, so again he transferred, this time to Kent State University where he studied psychology.
After several semesters at KSU, however, Jeff took off for Los Angeles to try his luck at a career in entertainment. He earned a few small acting roles, including a spot in a United States Navy commercial, but Jeff soon turned his focus back to music. And when Jeff teamed up with Justin Jeffre and brothers Nick and Drew Lachey, 98 Degrees was born. The Lachey's and Jeffre were all classmates at the Cincinnati School for Creative and Performing Arts, and the four guys did everything from landscaping to working as nightclub security guards while they perfected their sound.
And it paid off. The group signed with Motown Records and has produced three albums, the latest of which finds the romantic balladeers teaming up with stars such a Mariah Carey, Will Smith, Stevie Wonder and LL Cool J.
Their self-titled, debut album was released in July of 1997. Since then 98 Degrees has been featured on dozens of national television shows from The Tonight Show to Soul Train. They've toured Germany, Holland, England, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand, just to name a few. They are self-described sports fanatics, and sung the national anthem at the Chicago Bulls/Utah Jazz Game Five of the 1998 NBA Finals as well as at the 1999 Superbowl half-time show.
Their latest album, 98 Degrees and Rising, was certified double platinum on July 12 of this summer. The group has landed five songs on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart, and they have no sign of slowing down.
The sports information office at Bluffton College is making efforts to contact Jeff through his agent at Motown Records, as well as through 98 Degrees' personal manager, Paris D'Jon, in New York. Information is being prepared for VH1's "Pop Up Video" and "Before They Were Rock Stars" producers.
BC Director of Alumni Affairs Kevin Cluts said it would be great to have Jeff back on campus. "It's exciting to see a former BC student do so well internationally," said Cluts. "We'd like to think his days here at Bluffton College helped him in some way."
On the group's official website (www.98degrees.com) Timmons lists his favorite sport as football, his favorite movie as The Shawshank Redemption, and his favorite vacation spot as Panama City, Florida. Jeff also lists his favorite song as "It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday" and if that includes his days at Bluffton College, then a return trip to northwest Ohio could be in the future for this booming superstar.