It wasn’t long ago that Kalil Pimpleton wanted no part of football.
Pimpleton was the smallest player on his youth team, and he wanted out.
“At first, I used to hate football when I was a kid,” he said. “I hated getting hit.”
The problem was that Pimpleton lives in Muskegon, and when it comes to football in that town, well, it is not a sport you abandon.
“I finally realized I had to learn to take it because my parents weren’t going to let me stop,” he said. “My uncles, they have a great legacy here — the Sandfords. My parents pretty much wanted me to live up to that also.”
Pimpleton’s mother, Tawana, was a cheerleader for the 1986 state championship team, and his stepfather, Jeff Brown, played on that team.
►Related: No. 5 team in state: Macomb Dakota
So much for wanting to find a different sport.
Before entering high school, Pimpleton learned that the only way not to get hit was to use his quickness to make it difficult for defensive players to catch him, and the less he got hit, the more he learned to like the sport.
“It obviously grew on me,” he said. “I saw it was a God-given talent, and I put it to use. I worked hard at it, and I became the best I could. People would tell me when I was a kid I was going to do big things. They said the only thing working against me was my size, so I had to get stronger, get faster so those bigger guys couldn’t keep up with me, couldn’t catch me. I avoided them.”
At 5 feet 7 and 160 pounds, Pimpleton is small for a quarterback, but he does an amazing job running the veer option offense, and when he keeps the ball, he is a nightmare for the defense to catch.
But this will be his final year of playing quarterback. Pimpleton accepted a Virginia Tech offer, and next season he will be a slot receiver.
To say Virginia Tech’s offer surprised the youngster is a grand understatement.
“That pretty much came out of nowhere,” he said. “It caught me off guard. It was my very first Division I offer. It’s always been my dream to play Division I football and showcase my skills at that level.”
The offer reduced him to tears. It was something he had hoped for, but didn’t know if it would come.
The only knock on Pimpleton was his size, and that is a battle he has fought his entire life. But through three-time NBA slam dunk champ Nate Robinson, who is 5-9, Pimpleton has found a mantra.
“It’s ‘Heart over Height,’ ” he said. “I believe Nate Robinson named one of his books ‘Heart over Height,’ and I’ve gone by that ever since.”
Muskegon, the winningest program in state history, opens its season at 7 p.m. Saturday in Michigan Stadium against Ann Arbor Pioneer, the second-winningest program.
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1. Be sure that you follow Freep Sports on Twitter (@freepsports) and Instagram and like us on on Facebook.
Meet the Big Reds
Last season: 9-3.
Top players: QB Kalil Pimpleton, WR/DB Jacorey Sullivan, slot/DB Raquis McDonald, WR Jaden Mcgough, RB/LB Andrew Ward, junior slot/DB Davion McCall, C Devin Sanders, sophomore OT Anthony Bradford.
State playoff record: 46-19.
Coach: Shane Fairfield, seventh season at Muskegon (87-37).
Overview: There is tremendous depth with talented players at all the skill positions, bringing with them the usual high expectations. Pimpleton’s ability to run and pass adds a dimension to the offense. The defense should be its usual solid self.