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By Keith Taylor, The Winchester Sun
Miles Simpson isn’t a veteran, but might as well be considered one of Kentucky’s leaders on defense going into fall camp.
Although a sophomore, Simpson has already caught the attention of Kentucky football coach Joker Phillips, who has likes the way Simpson has caught on to the team’s defensive schemes and has “deemed” Simpson as one of the “leaders on this football team right now.”
“Miles Simpson is now one of the leaders of this football team,” the Kentucky coach said. “We saw it (on the recruiting trail). That’s why we recruited the guy.”
Simpson simply leads by example.
“I’ve never really tried to be a leader, but I just try to set an example of something good and have people follow me. I’m not one of those guys who are always talking. I do what I’m supposed to do and hopefully the guys will follow me. I’m not going to tell them what to do and trying to be anybody’s boss, but I’m trying to show the right way to do things.”
Simpson was a noted running back at Simon Kenton High School, rushing for more than 2,227 yards and 41 touchdowns as a senior. Simpson signed with the Wildcats as a running back, but was soon converted to safety. He was then moved to linebacker and will be the team’s starter at the hybrid safety-linebacker slot this season. Simpson will fill the void vacated by Winston Guy.
“I’m not worried about it now,” he said. “I came in expecting to play running back. I was prepared to move and the adjustment has been fine. I’ve been in this spot (linebacker) for a year and I’m comfortable.”
Simpson said speed is one of several elements needed to be successful at the hybrid-linebacker slot and isn’t worried about taking his share of hits on the line and at midfield.
“You have to be a little bit of everything,” he said. “You have to be able to turn people and be able to take on those 300-pound linemen who come at you and try to block you. You have to be able to do a little bit of both. When I was a running back, I was used to being hit. It help me out a little bit going to the linebacker spot.”
Playing behind Guy last season, Simpson, a redshirt freshman, finished with five tackles, including a career-high three stops against Vanderbilt. He also had two tackles, including one for a four-yard loss against Georgia. Simpson credited his development to Guy and his leadership last season.
“He took me under his wing and he taught me a lot of stuff (last season),” Simpson said. “He showed me how do things and now I’m ready to step up and take over the role. I feel pretty good. Last year, I got a little playing time and that helped me out a lot. It got my confidence up more and I know what to expect. I’m not just going out there like I’m the new guy who has never seen the field. I have a little bit of experience and practicing with the ones last year helped me out.”
During the off-season, Simpson spent more time in the film and weight room in preparation for the upcoming campaign.
“I’ve been working on getting my weight up and working on the little things that I need to do (get better),” he said.
Now, Simpson is anxious for the season to begin and is looking forward to the team’s season-opener on Sept. 2 at Louisville.
“I’m tired of practice (and workouts),” he said. “I want (to play) a game.”