PENSACOLA, Fla. (WMBB) – Freeport alum, Dalton Simpler has been one of the top offensive linemen in the nation and has helped lead the University of West Florida to the NCAA DII Final Four.

Simpler, a redshirt senior, was named as one of nine finalists for the Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award.

He’s started every game the previous two seasons for the Argonauts and even played two positions; center and left guard.

Simpler said being recognized as one of the best in the country at his position is truly an honor.

“It’s a great accomplishment,” Simpler said. “I mean, there’s a lot of hard work, I’ve played O-line my whole life. So, just to be in the nomination for that was a great accomplishment. And I got a great coach over here at the University of West Florida, Coach Saulnier, he pushes us to the max. And I mean, it’s just repetition of a repetition every day.”

Simpler was a contributor to West Florida’s 2019 national championship run but now hopes to lead his team back atop the DII college football landscape.

“It’s the same feeling as 2019,” Simpler said. “I didn’t play as much in 2019 but I played a pretty good bit in 2019 whenever we went all the way. And whenever you go all the way and you win, I mean it’s a great, it’s a great feeling and I want my teammates to have that same feeling.”

Simpler was named first-team all-conference and has not allowed a sack while playing 565 snaps.

West Florida will face Ferris State in the NCAA DII national semifinal on Saturday, December 10.