Mallard Creek, Clemson standout nearing NFL dream as draft night approaches

Trenton Simpson has starred at every level, and is now on the doorstep of professional football.
Trenton Simpson is viewed by many as a top linebacker in this year's class, and is a potential first-round pick.
Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 7:49 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The start of the 2023 NFL Draft is quickly closing in, and will officially get underway when the Carolina Panthers go on the clock with the first-overall pick.

Excitement is buzzing around the Panthers’ selection, but that’s not the only reason for the buzz around Charlotte.

Several players from Charlotte and the surrounding area are hoping to hear their names called this week.

One of them is linebacker Trenton Simpson.

Simpson went to Mallard Creek High School before leaving to become a standout for the Clemson Tigers.

Now, a moment he and countless other prospects have been waiting so long for is finally here.

“This is what I’ve worked for my whole life, so now I just feel like my work has paid off,” Simpson said. “I’ve been working at this since I was six years old.”

While many players dream of reaching the NFL, it’s a reality that simply doesn’t come true for most. Simpson’s grandmother though, seems less than surprised to see her grandson reach the game’s highest level.

“He’s living out the process that he set a long time ago,” Anita Tollison said. “He had certain qualities about him that you knew he was going to be a success…he’s always been that dude, as they say.”

The former Maverick star graduated high school early so he could get a jump-start on his college career, and once he got to college, he graduated with his degree in two-and-a-half years, getting himself to the league as fast as possible.

Fast isn’t just something that describes Simpson as a learner though, it also describes the sheer physical talent that is so intriguing to NFL scouts and front offices.

He posted the second-fastest time amongst linebackers at this year’s NFL Combine, running a blazing 4.43 40-yard dash in a display of ridiculous athleticism.

“I know that I’m a first-round talent and I’ve been all my life,” he said. “Just the work and this whole combine process has showed that.”

The accolades, success and path to professional football have always been in the plans for Simpson and his family, but what they can’t plan for, is what the moment will feel like when he finally gets the phone call he’s been waiting for since he was in elementary school.

“This is one of the many boxes that he’s checking off on his life-journey to-do list,” his mother, Dionna Ford, said. “I’m so excited, I’m looking forward to this day.”

If Simpson is in fact taken Thursday night, it would mark back-to-back years that a former Mallard Creek player has been selected in the first round of the draft.

Fellow former Maverick standout and Georgia Bulldog Jordan Davis was taken with the 13th pick by the Philadelphia Eagles last year.

Related: ‘Definitely a blessing’: QB prospects at the top of Panthers’ list as NFL Draft nears