Even though he hasn’t played the linebacker position for very long, talented true freshman Trenton Simpson showed what he can do last Saturday as he made plays all over the field in No. 1 Clemson’s 73-7 pummeling of Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
Simpson tied for the team lead with six total tackles – including four solo stops and one on a failed Yellow Jackets fourth-down conversion attempt – while flashing the talent that made him a five-star prospect coming out of Mallard Creek High School in Charlotte. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder, playing the nickel/SAM position, showcased his speed off the edge and ability to be a disruptive force in the backfield.
“He jumped off (the screen) because he’s making all the tackles,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “He’s just an awesome kid. So coachable. Never says a word, he just works.”
Simpson started his high school career as a running back and didn’t begin playing linebacker until his junior year in 2018.
As a senior in 2019, Simpson was named a first-team postseason All-American by Sports Illustrated after leading the Mallard Creek defense with 20 sacks while rushing for 371 yards and six touchdowns on 44 carries (8.4 yards per attempt).
Simpson played in the 2020 Under Armour All-America Game following a prep career during which he recorded 97 carries for 799 yards and seven touchdowns with an 8.2-yard average per tote.
“Hasn’t played linebacker very long, but he’s got a lot of natural ability – instincts, toughness, tackler, can run, hit,” Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “Natural striker, good pass rusher. Good in space.”
Simpson was highly regarded as a prospect, rated as a five-star by Rivals and 247Sports – both of which considered him the No. 1 outside linebacker and a top-15 national prospect in the 2020 class regardless of position.
Prior to his standout performance against Georgia Tech, Simpson notched his first career sack vs. The Citadel on Sept. 19 after recording a tackle in his college debut at Wake Forest the week before.
“Trenton is special in regard to just his natural talent,” Venables said. “Tremendous athlete, and very humble. Great worker, tremendous teammate. Very low maintenance, focused about his business.”
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