VAUGHT: Sam Simpson - Virginia or the SEC

While he's not ready to totally narrow his list of college choices yet, Lexington Henry Clay center Sam Simpson basically knows he'll either play for Virginia or one of four Southeastern Conference schools.

"There might be a couple of other schools I will consider, but I think that's where it will be — Virginia or the SEC," he said.

His SEC list includes hometown Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Alabama. He'll visit Alabama July 20 to complete his SEC tour. He went to Virginia recently and came back impressed.

"It's a great school and they took an interest in me early. I got to know the coaching staff very well. It would be a great place to play and go to school," he said.

"The people are what make every visit and place different. Everybody in the SEC has a big stadium. Even Vandy is making improvements to make the stadium bigger. But the people can change everything."

Because his father is the head coach at Henry Clay, the 6-4, 285-pound Simpson, who runs the 40-yard dash in 5.3 seconds, did not grow up as a fan of a particular team. Instead, he rooted for teams where his father had players go to play.

"I was more a fan of guys playing and did not really have a favorite team," he said.

Still, that has not stopped fans from letting him know how much they would like to see him play at Kentucky.

"I guess I enjoy the support and it is fun to have people tell me they want me to go to UK. But if I don't go there, it might be hard on them. It's more fun when someone tells me they would like me to go to UK, but they want to see me go where I would be happy," Simpson said.

He does have a special connection with UK linebacker coach Chuck Smith, a college teammate of his father's at Kentucky.

"We are good friends," Simpson said. "We have a great relationship. He's even told me if I have questions that are not about Kentucky but are more general in nature, just to ask. He is the one who told me to make sure I looked at other places to decide where I really want to do. He wants me to be happy. We will still be friends if I go to Kentucky and we will be friends if I don't."

Simpson has spent a lot of time in the weight room in the last year to prepare himself for college. He bench presses close to 300 pounds already.

"I know to play at the next level, I still have to get stronger," he said.

Simpson expects to make a college choice in August before Henry Clay's season starts. He's not worried about that adding pressure to his senior season.

"Dad says we always have a bulls-eye on our chest before every game. Making a commitment does not change that. If the right opportunity presents itself, I will make my choice," he said.

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