Mikell Simpson played a key role for the Hoos after rising to the top of the 2007 depth chart.
The Virginia football team started spring practice nearly 10 days ago but Sunday’s open practice for media and fans was the first opportunity to see the Hoos in action. There were plenty of new faces on the field as players try to earn a spot on the depth chart before the summer training period. Of course, there were some game-tested players in the mix as well, including running back Mikell Simpson , who rose from a hybrid receive role to starting tailback last season. We caught up with Simpson for a quick take on spring practice.
There are a lot of new faces in the mix this spring. Can you talk about what you all are doing in practice to get everyone on the same page?
We kind of are structuring practice right now where we have walk-throughs first and then live so everybody can see and learn on the field. At the same time, everyone is taking their own notes in the meetings so everybody is working to get on the same page and moving forward as a team.
We’re looking forward to Kevin being able to stretch the defense and make plays – that’s what he did the two years he played. Cedric is just a hard worker and he’ll complement me very well – he’s a workhorse.
Are you excited about and can you talk about the backfield with you and Cedric both back there?
I think it’s going to be a good tandem between us two. With both of us healthy and the line coming together slowly but surely, I feel as though we will start to be able to do a lot of good things this season.
We heard the USC fight song during practice. Did you all notice that?
Actually, we’ve been playing it since the first day of spring ball. You hear a lot about them and you can’t ignore the fact that they’re USC and they come in every year playing good. We just have to step it up the first game.
You’re sort of the poster child for ‘even though it’s spring ball, you have to stay focused, you have to practice hard, you have to be ready’ because of what happened with your situation last year, going from behind on the depth chart to starter in a matter of weeks. Can you talk about that?
That goes for everybody, not just me. During the season, people go down and people step up at practice. Whenever you get your chance, you just have to be aware and take full advantage of your opportunity.
Is that something you can tell some of the redshirt players and new faces too?
Everybody has to look at it like they may be the next man up even if they are four or five on the depth chart. You really don’t know what will happen in games. This is a contact sport so on any play a guy can go down and you could be in the game so you have to prepare yourself every week like you’re going into the game. That’s kind of what I did last year.
From there you have to make the most of your opportunity, right?
Yeah pretty much. You never know how many chances you’re going to get in college. With guys coming in and different recruits coming in, you have to take advantage of your opportunity when you get it.