Simpson Makes the Grade

Harrisburg HS running back Mikell Simpson recently received a qualifying test score on his standardized test. What is his next move? Does he have a top ten? Do the Nittany Lions figure into his future?

Name: Mikell Simpson
Position: RB/DB
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 195 pounds
40 Speed: 4.38 seconds
Hometown/School: Harrisburg, Pa. (Harrisburg HS)

When LionNews last spoke to Harrisburg HS running back Mikell Simpson, he felt that his academic standing had held back his recruiting.  Although Mikell boasts a 2.8 gpa in the classroom, he had not attained a qualifying standardized test score.  Have there been any developments in his quest to qualify?

"I'm clear right now," said Mikell proudly, who just recently scored an 890 on his SAT, which puts him on track to be ready to go come his freshman year of college.

"Not too many schools know at this point.  This weekend and all through this week, I'm going to call all the schools and let them know how I did on my SAT and let them know I'm interested to see how they respond.  If they're interested, we'll have a top ten hopefully next weekend."

Currently, Mikell has written offers from Virginia, Nebraska, UCLA, North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Boston College, Indiana, Connecticut, Louisville, Wisconsin, Syracuse, West Virginia, and a recent offer from Notre Dame.  He also has verbal offers from Ohio State and Rutgers.  The schools he plans on calling this weekend are Miami (Fl), North Carolina State, Penn State, Purdue, Alabama, Florida, Minnesota, and Ohio State.

While Penn State made Mikell's "to call" list, the Nittany Lions and the other in-state school, Pittsburgh, have not really expressed much attentiveness yet.

"I don' know what's going on with the in-state schools.  I've been out to Pitt twice.  I'm showing my interest for them, but they're not responding to me.  You've got to move on.  You can't just sit around and wait for one school," explained Mikell, who is being recruited for Penn State by Larry Johnson.

Now that he can shift his focus away from the test score, does he have any visits lined up in the near future?

"No, I'm just working and getting ready for the season," said Mikell, admitting he will take an official visit to check out UCLA.

"I haven't scheduled a date but that's the only one for sure that I'm taking.  It depends upon how my season goes.  If we go deep into the playoffs then I won't be able to go 'til later on."

Described by those who have seen him as a great athlete, does Mikell have a position preference for the next level?

"I would prefer offense -- running back.  The only school that has recruited me for defensive back that has offered me is Boston College," explained Mikell, who said the Eagles want him as a corner specifically.

This weekend, Mikell has the rare opportunity to get the personal perspective of the Big 33 (Pennsylvania and Ohio all-star game) from the man who is head coach of the Pennsylvania squad.  Harrisburg HS coach George Chaump hopes to lead the Keystone staters to victory this weekend and then Mikell Simpson to a state championship in December.

Mikell visited practice earlier this week and plans to attend the game at Hershey Park Stadium on Saturday night.  What were his observations from practice?

"They're using basically our whole offense.  I was talking to [Coach Chaump] today for like a half hour.  He was telling me all the plays they are running.  It's like the same exact thing our team runs."

Having played against Big 33 talent like Dan Lawlor, Jaimie Thomas, and James Bryant, Mikell hopes that next year he's part of the squad.  But there are many more goals to accomplish and many more decisions to make before he can think about spending a week of July in Hershey next year.

(Interview by Steve Curry)

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