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Clemson: How John Simpson made himself an All-American

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Jul 17, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; Clemson Tigers guard John Simpson speaks during the 2019 ACC Kickoff at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, NC. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

CLEMSON, S. C. — On the day last week when John Simpson became the first member of his family to graduate from college, he took time to send a text to a man four hours away—not a relative, but someone who played a vital role in helping the Clemson All-American offensive lineman reach this milestone.

Tommy Hall, proprietor of Halls Chophouse in Charleston, needed to see what Simpson had accomplished. So Simpson sent Hall a picture of his brand new diploma, and Hall in turn sent the picture to everyone on his staff at the upscale steakhouse.

“They’re all so proud of him,” Hall said. “We love watching him. It makes you proud to see him succeed.”

His path to football stardom, a college education and likely becoming a high NFL draft pick next spring wound its way through the kitchen at Halls, an institution in the Southern food Mecca of Charleston—and a restaurant Simpson and his family couldn’t afford when he was growing up in the rougher north side of the city. But opportunity met necessity in ninth grade, when Hall was visiting local high schools looking to hire teenagers who weren’t planning on going to college. It was part of the outreach program called Teach The Need, aimed at providing a restaurant-skills curriculum to low-income kids in the area.

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