CLINTON — Marquiz Simpkins might have been the last person to realize how good of a football player he could become.
And not just good.
After rushing for 2,009 yards as a sophomore, running a 4.35 40-yard dash and helping Clinton win a state title, almost everyone else knew he was special.
Going back to his freshman year, Simpkins had only played one season of competitive football. He said he was just never interested.
But it didn’t take long for coach Mike Lee and the staff at Clinton to see the potential that eventually led Simpkins to a spot at No. 13 on The Oklahoman’s Super 30.
“Coach told me I could be something special if I really wanted to,” Simpkins said. “He told me my freshman year I’d be getting some D-I offers. Me being a freshman, I didn’t believe it.”
Then he had that breakout sophomore year. Then he ran that 4.3 40.
Finally, at a Tulsa camp, TU coaches gave him his first Division I offer.
“That’s when I thought I could do something,” he said.
Soon, North Dakota, Southern Miss and New Mexico also offered, and going into his junior year, it looked as the offers would keep flowing in.
“He can run,” Lee said. “You watch him work out in the weight room, he’s strong, has good work habits, he’s physically and mentally tough. When you put all those attributes together with some talent, he obviously has a chance to be good, he just had to learn the game.
“And he’s pretty smart. He picked it up pretty fast.”
The narrative for Simpkins’ high school career changed in Week 5 of 2013 when Simpkins got horse-collared going into the end zone, pinching a nerve in his ankle. The next week, Simpkins sprained his other ankle and bruised a bone in his leg.
He only missed one game, but went weeks without practicing. He finished the season with 1,399 yards, and the offers didn’t come in as expected.
“When you play running back, when both legs are hurt, you tend to have a hard time doing the things he would normally do,” Lee said. “That being said, he still ran for a lot of yards.”
Now, he comes into his senior season looking to reach the goals he set a year ago. In doing so, he said he hopes he can extend his college offer sheet.
The kid who had never played football said it still isn’t an obsession for him, but he wants to seize his opportunity.
“I don’t want to be injured,” Simpkins said. “I don’t want to get hurt. I want it to be like my sophomore year. I want to ty to get at least 2,500 yards.”
No. 13: Marquiz Simpkins
Recruited by: Offers from Tulsa, North Dakota, Southern Miss and New Mexico. Has also visited Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State.