Atanasio Simba was unaware of the game of football as a youth growing up in wartorn Angola, but he learned the game when he came to the U.S., and now the Lutheran High North senior has just picked up his first offer from Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska.
“Four years ago, I did not know what football was,” Simba said. “It means a lot (to receive the offer) because I just fell in love with the game, and I love the ups, the downs and everything with it.”
Simba came to Houston following his eighth grade year after his father decided that he and his siblings should pursue their eldest brother’s path since he was doing well for himself in America.
The younger Simba spent his first six months in the city in a crash course learning English, and after completing the program, he enrolled at LHN. He stepped foot on campus as a scrawny and reserved kid, but that didn’t stop head football coach Nathan Robbins from approaching him to ask if he’d like to play football.
“At first, I didn’t want to play football because I didn’t know what it was,” he said in the Sept. 3, 2016 issue of The Leader. “I tried. I didn’t like it at first, but through practice, I started to get better.”
He struggled mightily in the gym and on the field in his first season, which resulted in him being limited to a reserve role.
During that time, he weighed a mere 119 pounds and could barely bench-press his own weight. At the start of the off season and throughout the past three years, Simba spent the bulk of his time in the gym and doing speed workouts on the track.
The Houston transplant now weighs 153 pounds, and recently at the Greater Houston Senior Showcase, he benched 195 pounds a total of eight times and ran an astonishing 4.45 second 40-yard dash time. His showing at the event is where Concordia became officially sold on the running back, despite the university showing interest in him dating back to football season.
“I was really excited because a lot of colleges have talked and continue talking to me, but Concordia was the first to take a step forward and give me an offer,” he said.
Although he has not committed to playing at the school, the offer could not have come at a better time because Simba said that he started to lose hope in immediately playing at the next level considering it had been several months since the end of football season, and yet, he hadn’t received a proposal.
Simba has also communicated with Sterling College in Kansas, Lakeland University and Beloit College, which are both in Wisconsin and Texas College in Tyler.
While he hasn’t been asked to play for any of these schools, he said he has continued to be in contact with them and hopes that he’ll be extended additional deals.
Regardless of where he ends up, it seems likely that the LHN senior will have a place in college football after the hard work that he has put in to get to this point.
“It is crazy and exciting because I look back to my freshman highlights, and I had no idea what I was doing, and now I had people coming up to me after games shaking my hand, telling me I had a great game and that they loved watching me play,” he said. “It’s just an amazing feeling and I just am blessed to have the great coaches I had.”