LEXINGTON — A year ago Miles Simpson was a highly-sought after running back at Simon Kenton High School because of his size and power.
The 6-2, 210-pound Simpson ran for 2,227 yards and scored 41 total touchdowns as a senior and running for 2,309 yards and scoring 41 touchdowns as a junior. Some recruiting services had him as the No. 2 prospect in Kentucky and among the nation’s top 100 high school running backs.
He eventually signed with Kentucky, one of three top running back prospects along with Raymond Sanders and Brandon Gainer. However, Simpson is no longer a UK running back. Instead, he moved to safety about two weeks ago.
“It’s the same spot I played a little bit in high school. I am fine with it,” he said of the move.
He said running backs coach Larry Brinson suggested he talk to head coach Joker Phillips after a recent scrimmage about the potential move.
“Coach Joker invited me into his office and we talked a lot about it,” Simpson said. “They asked if it was fine with me (to move) and if I would like to go over there, so I told them yes. It is a new challenge for me.”
Brinson said the move was not made because Simpson lacked the ability to play running back.
“He can play there. We wanted to give him an opportunity to play fast. Just where he is on our depth chart right now with the ability he has, we feel good with him on defense. He played secondary in high school and he has accepted it and is doing a good job from all I have seen,” Brinson said.
Simpson said a move to defense was not talked about during his recruitment, but he knew it was possible.
“I kind of figured it since I was more of a bigger back and they look like they use littler backs. It didn’t matter to me to be moved. It’s all good,” he said. “I like offense a little more since I have been playing it since I was 6 years old, but defense is just as good. I started out my career in high school at safety.”
What does he do best as a safety?
“I haven’t played in a while, but in high school it was mostly big hits. I would probably go with that,” he said.
He says he has picked up the “basic things” about safety but knows he’ll learn a lot more in spring practice than he will by being on defense only the second half of the season. He says a friend, walk-on Clay Cecil, is on the scout team with him and has helped him learn his assignments.
“He tells me what to do and has been a great help,” Simpson said.
Simpson says he’ll have competition for playing time at safety just like he did at running back.
“Everybody in front of me is just as good, so it was working hard (on offense). I am going to work hard to get on the field at safety now. There is competition everywhere. That’s not a problem to me,” he said.