Introducing the 2007 Class: T.J. Simpson

A coaching change, such as the one the Sun Devils went through last year, always carries the possibility of losing verbal commitments made to the old staff. T.J. Simpson, a local star wide receiver, de-committed from his hometown college, and ASU was in danger of losing a prized recruit. Yet once Dennis Erickson was hired Simpson realized that his initial decision was ultimately the right one.

"Even though I de-committed Arizona State was always my number one choice, but after the coaching change it was real wide open for me," recalled T.J. Simpson. "It's like I knew I was gonna sign with ASU no matter what. I just wanted to take some more visits and wait and see who ASU was gonna bring in for a head coach and then talk to that coach and see what he's all about."

When Erickson was officially hired on December 11th, one of his first calls as the new skipper at Arizona State, was to the Peoria wide receiver. "That's was a big plus," said Simpson, "and I knew that he was a real player's coach and that was very important too. He won championships in college and that shows that he knows how to get the job done."

Erickson's spread offense scheme, was another important aspect in Simpson's resolution. "In his scheme he throws the ball a lot, and as a wide receiver you know you're gonna get a lot of touches in this system. A lot of good receivers played in his system, and went on to play in the NFL."

Despite the excitement over the Erickson hire, Simpson took his time with the recruitment process and completed a couple of visits before committing again to ASU on January 8th. "When I came back from my Oregon State visit, I went to visit the ASU coaches," said Simpson. "They made me feel very wanted and that helped me make my decision." He added that it didn't hurt that fellow local wide receiver Kerry Taylor, who Simpson knows very well from his track club days, also pledged to ASU. Furthermore, he grew up with current Sun Devil running back Keegan Herring, who also attended Peoria High School.

Some of the ASU fans felt that the maroon and gold weren't going to lose out on Simpson, due to the proximity factor that was seemingly working in ASU's favor. Simpson however claimed that he was fully prepared to play away from home "I put that (proximity) factor away and didn't let it affect my decision," he remarked. "I was gonna go to the best school for me, and it didn't matter if it was close to home or away…t here's an advantage to being close to home because it's less of a transition. You're already familiar with the campus, know where everything is…I wasn't able to go to spring practice because I was running track. But I went to the spring game and I got to see how the coaches are on the sidelines and that was good to see."

Simpson was in fact a light participant during track season because of a hamstring injury, which according to the wide receiver has fully healed in the meantime. "It was disappointing that I didn't get to defend my titles (100-meter, 200 and 400), but my cousin Jamal Miles won some races so that was exciting," he commented.

When asked if his track attributes helped his football skills or was it vice versa, he replied: "Track really helps you with football, because it helps your speed in a straight line and explosiveness. But you can't just take any track athlete and make them into a football player. You still need to know how the play the game. Football is not just about running fast."

As a junior, Simpson caught 29 passes for 749 yards (25.8 ypc.) and seven touchdowns. Offers from Oregon, Oregon State, Nevada, and Colorado State consequently came the wide receiver's way after that campaign, and all the aforementioned schools tendered those offers before ASU did – a fact which really didn't faze Simpson at the time. "I know it's all a business," he explained. "ASU wanted me to come to their camp, so I can show them what I have to make me an offer, and I did get that offer after camp. It was surreal, pretty crazy when they offered me."

Simpson earned first-team All-Region recognition as a senior. He tallied 45 catches for 872 yards (19.4 ypc.) and nine touchdowns during that season. He also carried the ball eight times for 169 yards (21.1 ypc.) and two scores, along with a 32.1-yard average as a kick return specialist, with a long return of 93 yards. Overall, he totaled 74 catches for 1,621 yards (nearly 22 yards-per-catch) and 16 touchdowns during his junior and senior years.

"My speed is my number one skill," he commented. "My fastest time was a 4.37. I have good explosiveness off the ball and good route running. I do need to get bigger. I can catch well, but I could probably work more on that. Even though I have good speed, I know that the game is a lot faster in college and I have to get used to that."

These days Simpson is on campus with the rest of his fellow incoming freshmen, attending summer school and going through off–season conditioning workouts. "Things are going well and the workouts aren't too hard," he stated. "We're just doing a lot running now and growing up in this weather helps because you're used to running in it. Some of the out of state guys don't like it, but they'll be OK (smile)."

In 2006 ASU's wide receiver group struggled, and time will tell if that fact will help a newcomer such as Simpson to avoid the redshirt tag this season. "They want to see how I do in camp, and if I prove myself there's a chance I can get into the rotation, or just help with special teams," he said. "Whatever the coaches feel is the best for me, I'm OK with that."

Recruit Profile


T.J. Simpson

High School

Peoria (Ariz.) High School


Wide Receiver





Date of Birth



Veedersburg, Germany (Where Simpson's dad was stationed)



Favorite TV Show

"The Simpsons"

Favorite Singer

"Soldier Boy"

Favorite Food


Favorite Drink


Favorite Athlete

"Michael Jordan"

Favorite Pro Team

"Green Bay Packers"

Person you most admire

"Plaxico Burress from the New York Giants. He's not about the hype or anything like that. He just goes out there and takes care of his business."

First Football Memory

"First game in Pop Warner. I was about eight. I was one of the biggest kids there, so I played fullback and scored a touchdown in that game."

One Thing most people don't know about me

"People think I'm real quiet, but I'm an outgoing person."

Why did you choose ASU?

"I just love the whole program, everything that's happening at ASU. "

Where do you want to be in ten years?

"Hopefully in the pros. If that doesn't work out, I'd like to be a sports agent."

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