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July 18, 2012

Catching up with Maurice Simpkins

Former Coastal Carolina linebacker Maurice Simpkins will be inducted into the Chanticleers' Sasser Athletics Hall of Fame in October, and after discussing what that honor means to him, Simpkins talked with The Roost about his professional career and the path he was set on with his time at CCU.

A three-time first-team All-Big South selection from 2003-05, Simpkins has since played in the Indoor Football League, spent time on the practice squads of the Green Bay Packers and St. Louis Rams and briefly cracked the active roster in Green Bay. He's currently a free agent.

Q: What are your football plans this year?

Simpkins: "I don't, at this time, have anything lined up for this year. If you know anybody looking for a linebacker, have them call me. But right now I have a consulting business. I do IT consulting for colleges and universities. That's my career. That's the education from Coastal being used."

Q: How did you get involved in that field?

Simpkins: "I was blessed with the academic gift. Learning, to me, was easy. It was what I loved to do. Athletics was not my strong suit. It was something I had to work hard toward in order to get to the point that I'm at. The computer programming, that almost comes natural to me. When it comes to playing football, I was not a natural-born athlete. I had to work at it, but it was that work ethic that led me to having a great career at Coastal and talking to you about a Hall of Fame bid. It's a great honor. Out of all the athletes that played at Coastal Carolina or even played football at Coastal Carolina, it's a great honor."

Q: You've had an interesting career path to say the least. What has the experience been like for you these last few years?

Simpkins: "It was a dream come true. It was something I had set my mind to when I was seven years old, and it was a dream come true. The amount of life experiences and lessons I gained from being with the teams I was with was unparalleled. I could never have gotten that kind of lesson and experience being in any other situations. I'm grateful for that."

Q: You briefly made the active roster with the Green Bay Packers in 2010. What moment stands out the most to you from that experience?

Simpkins: "I think it was going to the meeting room and coach [Winston] Moss came to me, he was the linebackers coach, he said, 'Are you ready for this, son?' I said 'Yes sir, I'm ready.' It was still new to me. I had become accustomed to being on the practice squad. Not that I was [complacent], but I never saw it happening as fast as it happened, being promoted to the active roster. ... He walked up to me, gave me a handshake and said 'Welcome to the NFL, son.' That moment right there, I had arrived."

Q: What do you see for your football future?

Simpkins: "Honestly, I can't say on that. I can't speak for the teams that might or might not have interest. I would love to play again. I still work out six days a week as if I'm going back into football. I live my life as if I'll be going back into football this year. I can't say if I will or won't."

Q: When you got to Coastal (as a transfer from Catawba College) did you envision your football career going the way it has?

Simpkins: "Honestly, no. I was on so many levels scared. But one of the things that brought me so close with coach Bennett was how he made it so much easier for me with everything. When I first got to Coastal, I never saw any of this. I always doubted myself athletically. Academically, I had no doubts I could do the work. My problem in my mind was 'Do I match up against these athletes on a higher level?' And I pretty much had to go out and prove not only to myself but others who had doubted me before, and I was grateful I was put in a position to succeed."

Q: How often do you talk with Coach Bennett these days?

Simpkins: "I haven't talked to him as much as we used to, but we still talk, yes sir. Like I said, coach Bennett is as close to a father figure to me as you could pretty much get."

Q: How much have you heard about the new regime and what are your thoughts on the coaching change?

Simpkins: "Of course I follow the school and the different things that are going on. I haven't really had a chance to talk to or meet the new coaching staff. I hope to do that this year. My ultimate hope for Coastal is they keep growing as a school and as a football team, [that] we continue to grow and get better. ... I think we're still early enough in our history, we're still establishing ourself. I think we're still early enough to have an impact on who we are right now so 50-100 years from now people look back and say that school was amazing then, they're amazing now and that's petty much what I want no matter who's coaching."

| Ryan Young, ryoung@thesunnews.com









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