Most Important Buckeyes: No. 2
By Patrick Maks
COLUMBUS — If you’re looking at John Simon for the first time, it might be easy to mistake the senior for a WWE superstar rather than Ohio State’s star defensive lineman.
Photo by Dan Harker
Known for his absurd dedication in the weight room, Simon’s biceps, which are covered in tribal-esque tattoos, are like missiles attached to the sides of his body.
While Simon’s 6-2, 260-pound frame actually makes him relatively undersized for his position, the Buckeyes’ captain, for all intents and purposes, is college football’s closest thing to an M1 Abrams tank.
His imposing build, however, only scratches the surface of the legacy that Simon has created in his three years in Columbus.
It’s also just the beginning of why the Youngstown, Ohio, native is the No. 2 choice on our countdown of Ohio State’s 20 Most Important Players for 2012.
What Makes Him Important?
You could write a book on what John Simon means to Ohio State. It’s not what makes him important, it’s what makes him crucial, what makes him imperative is what we need to talk about regarding the senior.
Photo by Dan Jim Davidson
Just the seventh two-time captain in OSU football history, Simon is—and frankly, has been—the heart and soul of a teamshose on and off-the-field chaos maybe second only to Penn State.
Since his arrival on campus in 2009, Simon has been a force on the defensive line for the Buckeyes, having played all but one of 39 games in the last three years.
Throughout that span, Simon easily has established himself as one of college football’s elite defensive players and the numbers speak for themselves:
So far, Simon has 109 career tackles, 31 career-tackles-for-loss and 12 career-sacks. Not a bad three years by most accounts. 2011, his junior season, was the most monstrous of them all. In that season he made 53 tackles, 17 tackles-for-loss and seven sacks.
In fact, it was good enough to earn Simon a third-team Associated Press All-American and first-team All-Big Ten Conferences honors.
What separates from good to great and from great to elite is an uncompromising, unrelenting drive that even some of the best college football players don’t have.
Watch Simon for just one drive and it’s clear he plays well through the whistle—an in-house motto that first-year coach Urban Meyer has demanded from his players. Simon doesn’t take plays off nor does his motor stop running.
Simon finds himself the leader of what could arguably be one of the nation’s best defensive lines. OSU’s defense will only be as good as its men in the trenches on that side of the ball. If more of the same production, leadership and tenacity from Simon are in store for this season, expect the Buckeyes’ “Silver Bullet” defense to be back in business.
What can be expected of him?
Short of maybe tearing out his own beating heart from his thoracic cavity, Simon can be, will be, and should be expected to do anything and everything the Buckeyes ask of him.
Simon is in every possible way the essence of this particular Buckeyes’ squad. As he goes, so goes the rest of the team.
It’s no wonder Meyer can’t seem to gush enough about the guy.
The former Florida coach even went on to tell reporters that Simon has a Tim “Tebowish” way about him.
Regardless of your thoughts on the current Jets’ backup quarterback, Meyer’s lumping his former Heisman, two-time-national championship-winning quarterback and Simon in the same sentence is certainly indicative of the coach’s admiration for arguable the best player on the Buckeyes’ defense.
The thing with Simon is that OSU fans can probably rest assured knowing that Simon will come through—and then some—on what’s expected of him. Think about it—when’s the last time you were sitting there thinking “Man, that John Simon kid had a piss-poor game?”
What Would the Buckeyes Do Without Him?
Without Simon on the field, the defensive line wouldn’t be as good as expected this year and, as such, the defense would potentially struggle—though still not as much as it did last year. Meyer’s presence alone would keep the defense firing on all cylinders.
Where OSU would most miss Simon is in the locker room or at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Certainly, he’d be a missed face in the Buckeyes state-of-the-art weight room.
Simon is certainly crucial to the Buckeyes on-field play but where his true value weighs the most are in thing intangible to even fans and reporters.
It’s not crazy to say that Meyer has built this football program in the image of Simon. That’s not to say that Meyer suddenly changed his entire coaching philosophy when we came to Columbus. Not at all. Really, it’s just the opposite.
Simon and Meyer are coach-player marriage made in heaven.
Meyer found in Simon is what he has always looked for in his players wherever he’s been. Simon has it all: the passion, the competitiveness and the unbreakable focus—all traits that Meyer possesses himself.
While it’s Simon’s last year as a Buckeye, the senior may be able to look back in five years and still he himself in the program—even if only as someone who helped take his team from its darkest days to more promising ones in the matter of a year.
Most Important: No. 3 Johnathan Hankins
Most Important: No. 4 Corey Linsley
Most Important: No. 5 Carlos Hyde
Most Important: No. 6 Jack Mewhort
Most Important: No. 7 Ryan Shazier
Most Important: No. 8 Curtis Grant
Most Important: No. 9 Jake Stoneburner
Most Important: No. 10 Bradley Roby
Most Important: No. 11 Zach Boren
Most Important: No. 12 C.J. Barnett
Most Important: No. 13 Devin Smith
Most Important: No. 14 Corey Brown
Most Important: No. 15 Jordan Hall
Most Important: No. 16 Christian Bryant
Most Important: No. 17 Reid Fragel
Most Important: No. 18 Ben Buchanan
Most Important: No. 19 Michael Bennett
Most Important: No. 20 Drew Basil
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