Most Important Buckeyes: No. 2
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — This should be an easy piece to write based on his overall importance, but the depth of John Simon's contributions is what makes this a little harder than expected to put into words.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Even saying that John Simon was the second-most important Buckeye of the 2012 season underrates his impact, but that probably speaks more to the impact of our most important Buckeye, whomever that may be.
Simon has the tangible gifts that you need in a disruptive football player, but it's the fact that he also possesses every last intangible that made him great. John Simon may not be the ideal defensive end, but he is absolutely the ideal football player.
What Made Him Important?
Every great team has to have a defensive line that doesn't stay blocked, and that was one of Simon's strengths. From whistle to whistle, nobody gave more than he did, and few got as many results.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Simon led the Big Ten in sacks (9) and kept quarterbacks on their toes (and backs) on every snap. When he wasn't pressuring the quarterback, he was probably getting held. His efforts led to him being named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year this past season, an award that showed the level of respect that the rest of the conference had for him.
He dealt with injuries throughout the entire season, including a knee injury that kept him out of the Michigan game. Yet each week when asked about his health, he would only reveal that "I feel fine", or "I feel great", and this would be 20 minutes after Urban Meyer just got done telling the media all of the mangled physical issues that Simon was dealing with.
He never complained about his injuries because nothing about it would have helped his team get the win on Saturday, and that's where his focus was. Football players hurt, that's nothing new. He battled through them, producing five tackles for loss in a win over Nebraska and four sacks in an overtime win at Wisconsin.
Photo by Jim Davidson
A team without a leader on the field is a team that is lost. The 2012 Buckeyes had some tremendous leaders, and Simon (only the eighth two-time captain in OSU history) was at the top of the list. Even the other captains spoke of him in reverential terms, because they see what nobody on the outside sees. All football players work hard, yet some work even harder. That is John Simon.
John Simon was Urban Meyer's anchor this season. Meyer could have drifted off in his need to forge this new team in his image, but he was so connected to Simon that he never drifted that far off. Simon let him know that Ohio State wasn't broken, merely in need of a tune up.
What Would The Buckeyes Have Done Without Him?
How do you replace the man who does everything that you ask him to do, and does it exceedingly well? You can't.
Without John Simon on the defensive line, Ohio State would have been turning to defensive linemen who weren't ready to play, either because of youth or injury, and that's just the tangible loss.
Of equal importance would have been the leadership that the team missed in Simon's absence. The Buckeyes played in six games that were decided by a touchdown or less, including two overtime games. How many of those wins turn to losses without Simon's leadership alone?
This team had faith in their coaches, and they had faith in each other. On day one when Urban Meyer took over, John Simon bought in. He paved the way for everyone else to do the same. That faith also came out on Saturdays as well. They saw the results that their faith in eachother produced, and it only made them stronger.
How Does It Compare to Our Preseason Expectations?
Simon's importance in this football program was not a secret, nor was it a guess. That's why we also had him number two in our preseason expectations.
There can be an argument made that he should be number one on this list, but it's hard to quantify the intangibles. Yes, the Buckeyes beat Michigan without him on the field, but he still had an impact. Don't think for a second that his teammates weren't out there battling for him because he couldn't be out there to do it himself.
Maybe that's the true measure of his impact. Even when he's not on the field, he was still affecting what was happening out there.
John Simon might not be the Most Important Buckeye of 2012, but I wouldn't have a problem with there being a "1-A" and "1-B".
No. 3 Zach Boren
No. 4 Ryan Shazier
No. 5 Carlos Hyde
No. 6 Johnathan Hankins
No. 7 Bradley Roby
No. 8 Reid Fragel
No. 9 Philly Brown
No. 10 Jack Mewhort
No. 11 Devin Smith
No. 12 Corey Linsley
No. 13 Nathan Williams
No. 14 Christian Bryant
No. 15 Etienne Sabino
No. 16 Andrew Norwell
No. 17 Travis Howard
No. 18 C.J. Barnett
No. 19 Garrett Goebel
No. 20 Kenny Guiton
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