Clemson Feels Like Home for Freshman Linebacker Trenton Simpson

Christopher Hall

Clemson linebacker Trenton Simpson continues to make plays during his limited action through the first five games of the 2020 season. Simpson is adjusting nicely as a true freshman and said he feels comfortable in Tigertown. 

"This place has been everything I thought it would be and it's the place I wanted to be," Simpson said. I knew this was the place that fit my personality. I'm very laid back and the school is laid back and fits me. I knew the football part of Clemson was going to take care of everything but when I'm here, I feel very comfortable. I love the coaches and how they treat everybody, it's just a great place to be." 

The rookie from the Queen City made his debut in the opener against Wake Forest and recorded his first career sack in the 49-0 shutout over The Citadel. Last week in Atlanta, he tallied six stops to co-lead the Tigers in tackles for the game with cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. 

It's beginning to fall into place for the Mallard Creek High School alum and he's just enjoying the process. Simpson said he prepared well for the Georiga Tech game and it felt great to be a key part of dominant overall team performance in the 73-7 rout over the Yellow Jackets. 

"It was a great feeling. You know we prepared all week and I had a great week at practice. So when I went out there, I was really confident in the game plan and I just knew I had to execute and take care of my job. But it was a great feeling," Simpson said. 

Simpson is hoping to follow the footsteps of former Clemson great Isaiah Simmons and be like the versatile defender who now plays on Sunday's for Arizona. 

The freshman said right now he is getting most of his practice reps at the Sam-Nickle position and he's loving the position and how it compliments his strengths and overall game.

"I love being able to just run around," Simpson said. "(Playing the SAM position) gives me the chance to just run around, use my athletic ability and be able to cover sometimes, then come in the box and make a lot of tackles. I'm loving it. I watched how they used Isaiah Simmons and it is great I get to fill the same role he was in and learn to do it like he did." 

Simmons isn't the only former linebacker Simpson has watched and tried to emulate within his game. Like Super Bowl Champion Dorian O'Daniel, Simpson, too, played running back in high school and uses the mindset and running strategy to his benefit when defending ball carriers.

"It helps me a lot. When I see the running back, I just think like 'what could he be thinking right now?' when I'm coming to tackle him," Simpson said. The freshman often uses moves and tendencies he had as a running back to his advantage to anticipate different moves and cuts ball carriers make when trying to break or avoid tackles. 

But whether it is SAM, MIKE, or WILL, Simpson just wants to be versatile and ready to play whenever his name is called. 

"Since I got here, I've just been learning the defense and learning as many positions as I can," he said. 

While it hasn't always seemed like things would flow perfectly, Simspon is grateful for his decision and has no regrets for how things have unfolded to this point. 

"Yeah, I had a little bit of doubt but I just keep praying," he said. "Me and my mom and family stayed positive. We had a feeling it was going to come together. It was a time where I didn't know for sure but just prayer and faith in God, everything took care of itself, and now I'm here." 

As many before him have explained throughout defensive coordinator Brent Venables' tenure in Tigertown, there's always something to learn when Venables is your position coach and coordinator. 

"He's a very intense coach and I'm starting to adjust to it but just the way he coaches--he coaches to perfection," Simpson said. "That's all you can ask for as a player, somebody who wants you to be perfect. He doesn't settle for anything but perfection so I love that. He wants the best for me so playing for him motivates me. I just want to make him proud and because he wants it to be perfect every time," 

A sports Communication major, Simpson was asked on Monday to reveal his favorite broadcaster. 

"Definitely, Shaq. (Shaquille O'Neal). He brings a lot of energy to his job and I love to see people like that. Every time I see him on T.V., he looks like he loves what he does. I feel like if I get the chance to be on ESPN one day as a commentator, I can bring that same energy and have a little bit of knowledge behind what I'm talking about because I'm an experienced player," he said.