Mar 18, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorTanner Simpson has decided to walk on next fall on the University of Wyoming football squad.
The Lander Valley High School senior made his decision this past week on the next step in his athletic career.
Simpson was a two-time Class 3-A all-state football selection. Simpson was voted the Fremont County Player of Year in 2011.
"My whole life I have been a basketball guy, but after this year I have had a lot of people tell me that I have the ability to go and play Division I football," said Simpson Thursday afternoon during track practice.
Simpson was named to the Class 3-A all-state basketball list last week for the second straight year.
Simpson suffered a torn meniscus last month and had knee surgery on Feb. 21.
He was cleared by his doctor a day before the state tournament where he had seven points in three games and LVHS went 1-2.
"The knee injury was kind of disappointing for basketball," said Simpson who was averaging 18 points per game before his injury. "I didn't get to finish the season that I wanted to. Life throws you curveballs like that."
"I didn't really get that many offers for football," Simpson said. "I had a few. My lifetime goal has been to go play Division I athletics."
Simpson stands at 6-foot-2 and weighs 175 pounds. He will redshirt in the fall for the Pokes.
"Wyoming will try to put some meat on my bones," Simpson said. "I'm not big enough right now. I probably won't grow anymore. I'm hoping to get up to 200 pounds."
Simpson did receive a football offer from Carroll College, one of the top football programs on the NAIA level.
"The coach up at Carroll said that I could have an impact in my first year, and I didn't have to redshirt," Simpson said. "That made me think that I could go to Wyoming and do it."
Work to come
Simpson knows being a walk-on will be an uphill battle to get on the field.
"It will be a lot of work," Simpson said. "Being a walk-on, I will go on with a chip on my shoulder and try to prove that I'm worthy of a position down there. "
Simpson will focus his energy on the wide receiver position. In the fall, Simpson had an LVHS school record of 988 yards on 49 receptions and scored eight times.
Simpson is preparing to defend his Class 3-A track and field titles in May in the high jump event and in the long jump in Casper.
He won the high jump with a mark of 6-6 and won the long jump at 22-3.
"My knee is doing good," Simpson said. "My doctor said that I'm head and shoulders above everybody else that he has done before."
Simpson has been selected to play in the North-South Shrine Bowl football game and the Wyoming-Montana boys basketball series.
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