For offensive guard John Simpson, getting to play football for a notable Clemson team was everything he wanted and more.
“Having the notoriety that they had last year, that’s kind of why I chose to come here,” the freshman said on Monday as No. 3 Clemson prepares to host NC State this Saturday in Death Valley. “I wanted to be a part of something great, so it has helped me get to where I want to be.”
Preparing to be redshirted, Simpson was not expecting any playing time during his first season at Clemson, but that all changed when head coach Dabo Swinney saw something in Simpson that was worthy of his presence on the field.
“I wasn’t really expecting to play my freshman year but Coach Swinney saw something in me that I guess I didn’t see in myself,” Simpson said.
Finding out he was not going not be redshirted, Simpson was humbled by the coaching staff’s decision to allow him to play in his first season.
“Over summer and during camp, I was working with the twos, the purple group, and when I went in there I was like maybe I’m not redshirting,” he said. “I saw online that I wasn’t going to redshirt and I talked to Coach about it and he said that he sees potential in me and that I can actually play.”
Swinney and the rest of the coaching staff’s confidence in Simpson completely changed the freshman’s mindset and helped ramp up his goals.
“I got what it takes. I just want to be hundred-percent on the plays so I can go hundred-percent when it comes down to going hard when I am on the field,” Simpson said.
This season the offensive guard has participated in every game, but saw most if his action in the S.C. State and Boston College games.
Late in the Boston College game, he made a key a block in the fourth quarter that allowed freshman running back Tavien Feaster to score on a 45-yard touchdown run, which extend the Tigers’ lead to 49-10 at the time.
“My goal was to get good grades every time I get into a game and so far I have achieved that,” the Simpson said.
Having guys like Mitch Hyatt, Taylor Hearn, and Jake Fruhmorgen as mentors has given Simpson the ability to learn and grow as an offensive lineman.
“It took me a while but now I am getting used to it. I’m getting in the game more often,” Simpson said.