At 6-feet-7 and 336 pounds, it’s unlikely that Darrell Simpson has passed on too many Whataburgers.
Technically, that’s what the Justin Northwest offensive lineman did in order to play at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
“I think it was before the tournament, the Whataburger Tournament, I found out and then I had to tell my coach that I would be leaving early,” Simpson said. “They were a little sad because I had to leave. We have a game [Tuesday]. They’ll stick it out.”
Army Bowl teammate and Richland High linebacker DaShaun White, a tournament spectator, recalled Simpson’s Whataburger play a little differently.
“He goes for the layup, it hits the bottom of the rim and him in the chest,” White said. “I was busting out laughing.”
At practice this week — which so far has been confined to the Alamodome because of frigid weather — White has seen why Simpson is rated a three-star prospect on the website 247sports.com.
“He’s a big body, for one, that’s his biggest plus,” said White. “He’s aggressive, really aggressive. I’ve seen him just smash down on that defensive end or the tackle.”
Simpson, who signed with Oklahoma Dec. 20, said he wanted to be more than a name in a recruiting database.
“I tried to go out my senior year and focus on getting better,” he said, “and just try to prove that I was one of the top players — and not just be talked about but actually do something.”
Simpson said he’ll play left tackle in Saturday’s game.
“It’s been going good,” he adds. “Just getting work in, getting better, trying to work out.”
He relishes the chance to compete in a game where five- and four-star recruits outnumber everyone else.
“Yes, it will get me ready to see how I go against a different level of players,” Simpson said. “Everybody out here’s the best player around. They’re not here for no reason, so you’ve got to learn how to be better than everyone else.”
Title tilt or all-star game?
Cypress Ranch offensive tackle Colten Blanton and Cypress Springs safety Leon O’Neal, West teammates at the Army Bowl, have friends that played for Cypress Fairbanks, which last month won the UIL Class 5A II state championship.
So, would you trade a title for playing in this game?
“No sir, not at all,” said Blanton as O’Neal nodded in agreement. “I’d choose this over a state game.”
A moment later Blanton made a slight adjustment: “I mean, I’m not saying that I wouldn’t want to trade this, for the state game — that’s four more games I get to play with my brothers — but now I’m out here enjoying my last high school game and having lots of my family and friends come.”
O’Neal also amended his comment: “It goes both ways. I mean if you win state you deserve it anyway. Trade it, I don’t know. We didn’t earn that, so I wouldn’t trade it.
“We’re All-Americans! Not everybody can say they were All-Americans.”