BREAKING

Trenton Simpson: GT game gives a glimpse of former 5-star's potential


by - Senior Writer -
Simpson makes a tackle against The Citadel. (Photo courtesy ACC)
Simpson makes a tackle against The Citadel. (Photo courtesy ACC)

The 73-7 rout of Georgia Tech afforded the Clemson coaching staff to give playing to several younger players who deserved their chance to see the field, and one of the most impressive was freshman linebacker Trenton Simpson.

Simpson, the former 5-star prospect out of the stellar Mallard Creek program in Charlotte, NC, tied Andrew Booth with a team-high six tackles against the Yellow Jackets. The performance is just the beginning for Simpson, bringing to mind a text I received earlier in the week from someone close to the program.

“He’s going to be a Pro Bowl player one day,” it read. “Just wait. He will be playing on Sundays and in Pro Bowls.”

When Simpson entered the game, of course, my eyes were on him much of the time and it’s obvious that his athleticism is off the charts. That isn’t surprising since Simpson – much like former Clemson linebacker Dorian O’Daniel – was once a running back.

Simpson started his high school career as a running back, playing both running back and linebacker in 2019. He led the Mallard Creek defense with 20 sacks, but also had 44 carries for 371 yards and six touchdowns

For his career, Simpson recorded 97 carries for 799 yards and seven touchdowns with an 8.2-yard average per carry. Simpson won the Arnold R. Solomon Award for the North Carolina High School Football Player of the Year from NCPreps.com in 2019, and at the time of his signing, he ranked as the No. 13 overall player in the nation by 247Sports, which also listed him as the second-best linebacker and top player in North Carolina. Rivals.com rated him as the No. 26 overall player, the second-best linebacker and top player in North Carolina.

For his part, Simpson wanted to be a Clemson Tiger. He originally committed to Auburn and head coach Gus Malzahn, but backed off that pledge in October of 2019. Clemson was investing a lot of time with California linebacker Justin Flowe and didn’t offer Simpson. The coaching staff told Simpson to be patient, and when Flowe failed to commit in a timely manner Simpson earned the coveted Clemson offer.

Simpson and his family visited Clemson for a bowl practice in mid-December and head coach Swinney extended the official offer. An hour later, Simpson was a Tiger. He grew up friends with former Clemson defensive end Corey Crawford in his original hometown of Columbus, Ga., and wanted to play for the Tigers from a young age.

“Corey Crawford was like a big brother to me. I would come watch him play when I was younger,” Simpson said. “He's from Columbus, Georgia, where I am from."

Now, Simpson is wearing what will soon be a familiar No. 22 for Clemson fans and just beginning his journey. He’s also having the time of his life.

"A dream come true, and I'm still living my dream," Simpson said. "You know, I waited. I mean, this is where I wanted to be, so I just had to wait for when my opportunity came and make sure I committed. Now I'm just living my dream.

“Just learning every day, like just learning this position. Having fun, and just taking the leadership from my older teammates and just running with it. Having the time of my life."

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