For Sullivan, It’s a Family Affair At Henry Clay High

scholar-athleteSullivan Simpson

• School: Henry Clay High
• Grade: 12
• Sports: Football
• Academics: Sullivan has a 4.6 weighted GPA, has taken two A.P. classes, is a member of the National Honor Society and is active with Young Life.
• Parents: Sheri & Sam

At 6-foot-3, 285 pounds, senior center Sullivan Simpson of Henry Clay High is everything you’d want in a scholar athlete.

He has a 4.6 weighted GPA, is a member of the National Honor Society, is an active member of Young Life ministry, has the respect of his teammates and… he’s fierce.

But only on the football field.

“It’s like a boxer. You can’t go crazy outside the ring,” Sullivan’s father Sam said. “But inside the ring, you got to be aggressive or you’ll get killed.”

Sam knows what he’s talking about. He’s in his 23rd year as the Henry Clay coach, and Sullivan is the third son to play for him.

Salin, 28, was an All-State quarterback who played at Middle Tennessee State and Georgetown College and now coaches a middle school team in Scott County.

Samuel, 25, was an All-State center who suffered a career-ending injury at UK and is now a graduate assistant for Wildcat Coach Mark Stoops and is working on his MBA.

In his day, Sam led Scott County to a state championship and played for UK and Georgetown College.

He raves about Sullivan, pointing out that he can bench press 340 pounds and ran a 5.1 40-yard dash.

“He has the best range of any lineman I’ve coached,”’ Sam said. “He’s smart. He makes all of our line blocking calls. No one wants to win more than him and he’s humble. He doesn’t need the accolades.”

But they have come anyway. A three-year starter, Sullivan last year was All-State and All-City. Before this season, he was named one of the state’s top 50 players and is being recruited by Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky, Western Kentucky and Centre College.

As Henry Clay heads for another trip to the playoffs, Sullivan has much to reflect on, starting with his first varsity game when he lined up against John Hardin’s Matt Elam, now a 6-foot-7, 350-pound freshman lineman at UK.

But Sullivan’s memories stretch beyond his playing career. He has grown up on the Blue Devil sideline, attending his first game as an infant.

“I love the tradition at Henry Clay,” he said. “I remember being the ball boy and carrying the flag to lead the team on the field when I was in middle school.”

His favorite pastime is hanging out with his brothers, who share a house a few blocks from the Simpson home.

He may be nasty on the football field but his mother, Sheri, sees another side.

“I’ve never had a bad day with Sullivan and I’ve never been mad at him,” she said. “He’s been our gift.”

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