Simpson to play in Blue-Grey Game
By Scott Akanewich
Blake Simpson rushed for 2,024 yards and scored 30 touchdowns during his senior season for a Class 5A football team which advanced all the way to the state semifinals.
Yet, somehow, the 6-foot-2½, 215-pound running back still doesn’t have a place to call home for his college career.
Hopefully, all that will change after May 17, when Simpson will play for the West squad at the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Dallas after being selected to play in the prestigious contest that attracts the top high-school talent from across the entire country.
“It’s an honor to be able to play with the best – it’s a big deal,” said Simpson, who ran for 4,388 yards and 56 touchdowns during his three seasons on the Panthers’ varsity. “I feel like I have something to prove that I can play.”
Many of Simpson’s teammates and opponents in the showcase contest have long since committed to some of the top schools in the country, so he’s definitely ready to measure himself against such a high caliber of players, he said.
“This opportunity makes me happy – I’m excited to see what I can do,” said Simpson. “I want to see if I can make something out of my college career.”
Simpson burst onto the scene as a sophomore for the Panthers, including a Class 4A state semifinal performance in Liberty Hill’s 44-41 victory over Carthage in which he rushed 22 times for 192 yards and two touchdowns.
Ever since, Simpson has used a bruising running style in rising to become one of the top running backs in the entire state, but knows he must prove what he can do against the big boys in Dallas.
“I need to show I’m a versatile player,” he said. “I can run, catch and block and I’m very coachable.”
Liberty Hill head coach Kent Walker certainly knows what Simpson brings to the fight.
“I think Blake’s biggest strength is how physical of a runner he is,” said Walker. “He also has great vision, which all good running backs have.”
Simpson said he’s proud of the opportunity to represent his hometown at a national event.
“I just hope the community looks on me in a good way,” he said. “I feel like I’m a role model, I’ve had good integrity and I’m leaving a good legacy for when people look back.”
Walker added having a Panthers player appear on such a grand stage is something the entire Purple-and-Gold football family can be proud of.
“It’s awesome anytime we have a player or athlete who gets to participate in something like this,” he said. “It’s definitely a big deal for Liberty Hill.”
Simpson got word he had been selected for the game via a social media message in late February, but word of his invitation didn’t change his approach as far as his workout regimen is concerned, he said.
“I was already working out, running and lifting every day,” said Simpson. “Also, I was eating right without a lot of sugar.”
Despite the fact he doesn’t yet know where he’ll be playing next season, he has somewhat of an idea where he would fit in best, he said.
“I think a small Division I school,” said Simpson. “But, I’ve also considered going to a junior college and then moving up.”
In 2020, Liberty Hill alum and current University of Texas-San Antonio defensive lineman Walker Baty was named defensive MVP of the game and Simpson said he’s had contact with his former teammate regarding his participation this year.
“I’ve been texting with him about it,” he said. “Seeing how he was defensive MVP, he challenged me to be offensive MVP.”