by Arielle Andres, student assistant
SAN ANTONIO — Sophomore running back CheRod Simpson not only is a noticeable Roadrunner on the football field, but he also is a notable student-athlete who serves in many capacities on the UTSA campus.
The Oakland, Calif., native easily is spotted on the field because of his mane of wavy hair that extends from his helmet, similar to that of Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu, and that is the culprit for his nicknames “Troy” and “Sampson.”
“I’ve been growing my hair for about three years now, and it grew faster than I expected,” Simpson said after Wednesday’s scrimmage in which he peeled off a 38-yard touchdown scamper. “I’m just going to keep growing it until it becomes unbearable, which may never happen.”
His nickname referencing biblical strongman, Sampson, seems to fit the most.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound force is constantly dragged to the ground by his hair because that is the only way his opponents know how to stop his strong running style.
“It’s kind of frustrating, but I have it out, so it’s a risk I have to take,” he said. “When it happens, I just get up and smile at the guy who did it like I always do.”
After what he says was a long journey arriving to the Alamo City, Simpson will have three seasons to play for the Roadrunners after this year’s “practice” campaign.
Coming out of Oakland’s Bishop O’Dowd High School, he decided to attend Texas A&M-Commerce after receiving a scholarship in July 2009.
Simpson defines his time with the Lions as a different experience than what he grew up with, a tale of two extremes, so to speak.
When he learned that the Roadrunners were starting a football program under the direction of head coach Larry Coker, Simpson quickly applied to UTSA and came to campus with the hopes of joining the team as a walk-on.
“My spot on the team is a true blessing,” he said. “I came here as a student, left my tape on coaches’ desk with a note expressing my interest, and they gave me a preferred walk-on position. Everything came together perfectly.”
Although Simpson feels he is at his new home with the Birds, he has a long list of things he misses from the Golden State.
“First of all, I really miss my mother, but she gets to come to some of the scrimmages because she is a flight attendant and frequently comes through San Antonio,” he said. “I still find myself missing her when she isn’t here, though.”
He also yearns for the East Bay’s perfect weather, the urban feel of the big city, unique music and side shows, which are, as he explains, car shows where people demonstrate their car’s performance, as opposed to the typical show in the South where only the exterior is showcased.
Through all of this, he claims he loves San Antonio and potentially sees it as his permanent home.
“It is the most peaceful place I’ve ever lived,” Simpson said. “In Oakland, I would hear gunshots and sirens on a regular basis. It’s a completely different world out here, and I’m so thankful to be at UTSA because it’s a great campus.”
However, this kinesiology major has more to him than just long hair and West Coast personality.
He is a student-athlete looking to go pro in physical therapy. He is pursuing a Ph.D. and, although he still has to iron out his path to a doctorate, he knows what his ultimate goal is.
“Before I was on the football team, I knew I wanted to get seriously involved on campus,” Simpson said.
He serves on the Student Government Association (SGA) as the Senator of the College of Education and Human Development and, through that position, he serves as an ambassador to the SGA President. As if that title was not enough, Simpson sought to add more to his plate by becoming a Resident Assistant at University Oaks. The most amazing part is all of this came before he added UTSA Football to his to-do list.
“It makes my schedule strict, but I like it, because I stay disciplined,” he said.
With only two weeks remaining in the fall season, Simpson is staying more disciplined than ever.
“I need to work on paying attention to detail,” he said “I want to make sure that I am executing all my responsibilities the right way. When we get to the spring game, there will be a big crowd and so much more excitement than what we’ve experienced so far. By that time, I want everything to seem like second nature, so I need to keep my mind focused and disciplined.”
More importantly, Simpson has aspirations to leave a legacy for Roadrunners Football.
“I want to always be known as the hardest worker the program has ever seen, and that’s it,” he said. “My favorite saying is by adidas. It says to ‘give 100 percent but get 101 percent back.’”
With all the hard work Simpson has put in so far, getting more in return is merely a formality.