William Simpson doesn’t get in trouble, but he sure dishes it out.
The Northeastern sophomore has handed it out even before his birth, hence being nicknamed “Trouble” by his mother.
“She almost passed when she had me, so I gave her a lot of trouble,” Simpson said.
And so the Eagles fullback and defensive lineman wears the moniker as a source of pride around practices and games.
In recent games, it has also become a source of pain for opponents, who already had to deal with Northeastern standouts such as tailback A.J. Felton and wide receiver Marquis Whidbee.
Simpson didn’t register a carry in the Eagles’ first two games while playing behind senior starting fullback Brandon Brower.
But after Brower went down with a shoulder injury, Simpson emerged. In five games, he has rushed for 224 yards and scored 11 touchdowns — one on a pass — even though he has been used mostly in short-yardage situations.
Now Simpson’s presence becomes harder to miss — and stop — in the backfield.
Northeastern coach Antonio Moore said Simpson, a bruising runner with speed to match, will only get better.
“He plays like he’s a senior,” Moore said. “He’s a little ahead of his time right now. My theory is to bring sophomores up and let them play and to grow them up for the future. Grow them up, because you know they’ll be pretty good. You would never think he’s a sophomore.”
In fact, Simpson is one of a handful of sophomores becoming a factor on an already loaded Northeastern lineup.
While fellow 10th graders Ge’Dari Liverman and Quaymon Williams, who split time at quarterback, were already expected to carry their load on offense, Simpson has become a force on both sides of the ball.
The 5-11, 215-pound standout is one of a few players the Eagles count on to play offense and defense most of the game.
Simpson moved up to varsity after two games last season, primarily as added help to the defensive line. He still prefers defense, but also doesn’t mind carrying the ball or helping fellow back Felton find running room.
“It doesn’t matter if he (Felton) gets the ball, I’ll block for him,” Simpson said. “If I get the ball, I’ll just run hard. We work together. There’s a lot of talent on the team. I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
He makes his part heard at practice, barking instructions and encouragement to teammates who make sure to warn others, “Here comes trouble.”
Simpson is fine with being a louder voice even as an underclassman. Moore said he would consider a change to Simpson’s nickname because of his status on the team.
“I would call him the granddad,” Moore said. “He’s the grandfather of our football team right now. When things are not going good, and everybody’s in a bad mood, because not everybody comes to practice every day happy, he’s the one that gives them wisdom and tells them to pick it up.”
Last week, Simpson became a focal point of Northeastern’s second-half point explosion at Bertie, scoring three touchdowns in the final 24 minutes as the Eagles pulled away to a 55-12 victory.
Simpson’s size has agitated defenders, as he has been able to drag two and three players on his back to get first down yardage or more.
“That makes me feel good. That’s all about staying in the weight room,” Simpson said.
Moore noticed his potential as a major offensive contributor by the start of Northeastern Coastal Conference play. In the Eagles’ conference opener at Hertford, when Felton bounced outside, it was a matter of outracing players. But with Simpson busting tacklers up the middle, the Bears became disoriented and worn down physically early in a 61-12 NHS rout.
Now Moore believes Simpson could be his program’s next big recruit, with only time on his side to become a terror.
Or more trouble.
“I figured he would help us out on defense, but I didn’t think he’d have this much impact on offense,” Moore said. “In the Bertie game he played well. In the Hertford County game, he played well. Trouble has arrived.”
And Simpson is licking his chops to deliver more trouble for the remainder of 2012 and his next two seasons of football.
He believes he can add 15 pounds or more on his already tough frame to make life more uncomfortable for opponents.
“I know for a fact I’m going to get bigger and faster and stronger, and they just won’t be able to stop me,” Simpson said.
And that ensures trouble won’t be a burden on Simpson. He can throw it on others while not causing any off the field.
“Everybody calls me ‘Trouble,’ ” Simpson said with a laugh. “My teachers, everybody.”