The decision has been made, and Clemson has decided to go ahead and sign Trenton Simpson with its final spot at LB. For months it appeared as though the final spot would go to Justin Flowe out of California, however, as both Flowe and Simpson’s recruitments reached the latter stages it appeared things had changed. Flowe has an affinity for both the west coast and big cities; 2 things that Clemson simply could not provide. Clemson decided not to leave things to chance and potentially be left at the alter by Flowe despite a perfect fit on the Football side of things. What resulted was the Tigers hosting Simpson on an Official Visit this past weekend before swiftly offering and thus ending their pursuit for another LB after his immediate commitment.
Some will view this as a “secondary option”, but it absolutely should not be viewed as such. Flowe is the most heralded LB in the class for good reason, however, there are evaluators in certain areas of the country that think both Trenton Simpson, and Oregon commit Noah Sewell are even better prospects. In terms of polished prospects at LB, the choice is Flowe, but with 1-2 years of development I’m not sure the answer will remain the same. In terms of athletic ability, both Simpson and Sewell are more impressive than Justin (though Flowe is no slouch in that department). With a 4.67 40 yard dash, 4.15 shuttle, and 38 inch vertical leap at a larger size than Flowe, Trenton is one of the most impressive athletes in the entire class. He does lack some of the more nuanced aspects of being an elite LB, but those nuances will come in time.
As a player, Simpson possesses a unique skillset that could lead him to a variety of different paths as a player. He could stay at his current weight of 225-230 and still be athletic enough to play as the coverage backer in Venables scheme, or he could even bulk up and grow into a Weakside Defensive end at 240-250 pounds. It’s likely that he ends up somewhere in the middle at anywhere from 230-240. He will be able to play all 3 LB spots, and will still be versatile enough to cover at the SAM position, as well blitz effectively at the WILL position which undoubtedly makes him a rare talent. Many have compared Simpson to Isaiah Simmons. While I don’t agree with that notion primarily based on the premise that their body types are completely different, like Simmons, Simpson could be used as a swiss-army knife, just in different ways.
Simpson is currently rated 29th on 24/7’s composite ratings, but that is weighed down by Espn’s rating of 107 overall (another example of absurdly bad ratings from that site). In all likelihood the uber-talented prospect will end up even higher than 29th overall, and could very well make Tiger fans forget about the name Justin Flowe. Simpson desperately wanted to be offered by Clemson, and he is the ultimate “feel good” story of the 2020 class. But make no mistake, Simpson could very well be the best LB in the entire country. Simpson’s Senior Highlights can be found here.
I recently gave my take on Simpson when he committed (HINT: I think he is really good). Simpson will inevitably be compared to Flowe, which is unfortunate, but it isn’t a comparison where Simpson necessarily loses.
Both prospects are 5* big-time prospects and both will likely have great careers regardless of where they go. Having said that here is why I don’t think it is wrong to like Simpson as much as, if not more than, Flowe.
Simpson has superior length and wingspan. Simpson is one of the more ebullient (yes I used the word ebullient) personalities you will meet and in a couple of years will be one of those Clemson player personalities people love. Flowe is every bit a good person, but he is the big, loud personality that is more brash (again, both can be good for the locker-room but they are different).
I like Simpson in BV’s system and with BV the coach. Simpson gives more scheme versatility and he also will stick it out and go through the lumps of learning Coach V’s complicated system. It isn’t easy to come in and play right away for BV. Managing and directing 3 or 4 base packages isn’t easy no matter how much talent you have. I’m sure Flowe would’ve learned everything quickly, but what if he struggled? Would he be more likely to get homesick and leave for Cali if he wasn’t seeing the field versus the guy from up the road who bought his own ticket to watch the ACC Champs game to attract the coaches? Again, Flowe probably plays his freshman year, but something to ponder. Is Flowe ever so slightly overrated by social media hits? Simpson has shown steady improvement over the course of his high school career and it shouldn’t stop any time soon.