Blanket's Tyler Simpson signs to play football at Angelo State University
Tyler Simpson, a two-time all-state receiver for the Blanket Tigers, did something Wednesday most six-man football players never have a chance to do. He signed to play college football.
Simpson, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound tight end prospect, signed a national letter of intent to play college football at Angelo State, a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference.
“I’m ready for the jump from six-man to 11-man,” Simpson said. “A lot of the terminology is going to be crazy at first. I’m hoping to get it down. The space of the players on the field is probably the biggest difference. In six-man, there are a lot of places you can go. In 11-man, it’s a crowded field.”
Simpson will became the first Blanket player to play college football since 1973, current Tigers head coach Tyler Tabor said. The 1973 player was Ronnie Schulzie, a running back and tight end who went to Tarleton State. It should be noted that Blanket played 11-man football in 1973.
Tabor himself partially falls into the same category as Schulzie and Simpson. He played three seasons of 11-man football at Blanket from 1978-1980 before moving to Brownwood and quarterbacking the Lions to the Class 4A state championship in 1981. Tabor then signed with Stephen F. Austin and later played strong safety for the Lumberjacks.
Even though more six-man players have received college opportunities in recent years, making the jump is still rare — especially above the NCAA Division III level. The most famous West Texas six-man players that played at higher levels are Jack Pardee, who went from Christoval to Texas A&M to the NFL; Ed Sprinkle, who went from Tuscola to Hardin-Simmons (Division I at the time) to the NFL; and Knox Pittard, who went from Mozelle (now Panther Creek) to Baylor to the NFL.
Simpson was actually one of two players ASU signed from the six-man ranks Wednesday, along with Motley County's all-state tight end, Kade Wampler.
Simpson had a longtime vision of playing college football — even if he was playing for a six-man team.
“It has always been a dream of mine and my friends,” he said. “My whole life has centered around football. I started playing in the first grade. It’s crazy that I’m actually getting to do it.”
Simpson laid the groundwork for his unique opportunity when he went to five football camps around the area on the Legend’s Showcase Series, which connects high school players with college recruiters.
“He fits the profile at 6-5 and 225 pounds, and he’s noticeable,” Tabor said of Simpson. “He makes really good grades, and he put himself out there. His parents took him to a lot of camps and showcases. They put in the effort, and he got noticed.
“And he played well. If you look at our films, you see a kid with a ton of potential that runs well and has good hands.”
Blanket made the Class 1A Division II playoffs during Simpson’s junior and senior seasons, when he was named an all-state receiver. Last season, he made 47 tackles on defense and caught 13 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns.
“He was our blocking tight end and caught most of his passes from the tight end position. We split him out some to get him in one-on-one situations,” Tabor said.
Simpson also scored 36 points in a recent Blanket basketball game as the Tigers appear headed for the playoffs.
Bangs lineman signs with Cisco
Trey Ivey, a lineman for the Class 3A Bangs Dragons, signed Wednesday to play junior college football for the Cisco College Wranglers.
Ivey was voted the Lineman of the Year in District 2-3A Division II last season after helping Bangs to a 10-2 record and second-round playoff appearance. He was a key blocker for an offense that averaged 41 points per game.
Ivey is projected to be an offensive lineman at Cisco.