Elite Linebacker Lists Vols Among Top Schools

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    (Photo via IrishSportsDaily.com)

    The Vols need explosion and speed on defense, and one of the top defensive athletes in the 2020 cycle included Tennessee among his list of top schools on Friday.

    Trenton Simpson is an elite, four-star outside linebacker who plays for Mallard Creek in Charlotte, North Carolina. On Thursday night, he tweeted out his list of top five schools moving forward in his recruitment, and the Vols made the cut. Tennessee is joined by Auburn, Georgia, Miami, and North Carolina.

    According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Simpson is the No. 67 overall prospect and No. 4 outside linebacker in the 2020 class. The regular 247Sports rankings are even higher on him, listing him as the No. 33 overall player in this cycle. Along with the five schools in his list, Simpson also holds offers from Oklahoma, LSU, Michigan, and Notre Dame among many others.

    The 6-foot-3, 220-pound athlete picked up an offer from the Vols on January 19th and took an unofficial visit to campus on February 16th for a Junior Day event. He’s visited the in-state Tar Heels numerous times and has also visited South Carolina and Georgia.

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    Simpson plays both running back and outside linebacker for Mallard Creek, but he’s viewed almost exclusively as an outside linebacker prospect at the collegiate level.

    As a defender, Simpson is a very quick and instinctive player. He reads offenses well and does a good job of not getting fooled by the ball carrier. He wraps up well, and he just has another gear when he’s heading into the backfield. Simpson looks like a heat-seeking missile when he has his sights locked on to the running back or quarterback, and he’s hard to deter from his mission of stopping the ball carrier. Not only that, but he moves very well in space and looks like he can play sideline to sideline.

    Simpson participated in Nike’s The Opening regional in Charlotte last weekend, and he was named the top performer by 247Sports’ Charles Powers.

    “Trenton Simpson stars on both sides of the ball for one of North Carolina’s top programs as a running back and linebacker, but Sunday saw the Top247 prospect flash his high upside on defense,” Powers wrote. “Checking in at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, the Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek standout has outstanding length and movement skills at linebacker. Simpson used his long arms and considerable range to easily corral ball carriers in an open field pursuit drill. When it came time for pass rush drills, no linebacker was better, as he was only slowed off the edge on a few occasions. The four-star prospect also showed some natural physicality and pop in his hands as he stunned a few running backs simply by wrapping them up.

    “In addition to his strong showing in drills, Simpson tested very well, running a 4.69 second 40-yard dash, a 4.34 second short shuttle and jumping 37.8 inches. Between his frame, measurables and versatility with the ability to excel both in space and off the edge, Simpson presented a full array of skills in addition to remaining upside considering his status as a two-way player.”

    Tennessee doesn’t currently have any outside linebackers committed to them in their 2020 class, but they will likely look to add a commitment from one or two as the cycle continues onward. Charlotte and North Carolina in general have been big points of emphasis under UT’s new coaching staff, so expect Simpson to get plenty of attention from the Vols.



    Nathanael Rutherford
    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.