"It was a good experience. It got me used to playing in front of crowds. I went to school with a lot of other guys that went D-I, Shawn Crable at Michigan and Justin Zwick at Ohio State. The speed was there and prepared me well."
Massillon now has three Division I high schools-Jackson, Perry and Washington. J. P. attended Massillon Washington, but some of J. P.‘s Bearcat teammates attended high schools that didn't even have weightrooms. That wasn't the case if you played football at Massillon Washington. "They have a real nice weightroom with top of the line equipment, much like we have here. We had a real good program."
J. P. has been running with the first unit at right tackle for the last week or so. He thinks he's ready to make an impact. "I feel like this is going to be my year to step in and make some noise out here." Last year Simon had an unusual responsibility for a guy 6' 6" tall and 311 pounds. He was a part of the wedge on kickoff returns. This speaks well of his quickness and feet. Simon runs a 5.2 forty, second to only Khalil El-Amin among offensive linemen at UC.
In the past, the offensive tackles were the biggest players on the offense. The offensive guards were a little smaller and the centers were often the smallest players on the line. That has changed for a number of reasons, and Simon explained one reason why. "All the positions you have to have size and speed to compete. Everybody is big and fast out here so you have to have both." Defensive ends have changed the game with their speed and quickness, and its caused offenses to adjust by putting quicker players at tackle and not necessarily their biggest and strongest. Simon was well aware of the difficulty of blocking the better defensive ends. "These D-ends are some of the most athletic guys on the team, and some of the fastest guys on the team. Their speed is what makes it tough."
Simon thinks this group of offensive linemen are very close. "This is the tightest group since I've been here. We're always together having a good time on and off the field." I've almost gotten to the point where I hate interviewing these guys because they're always trying to distract the guy I'm talking to with catcalls.
If there was ever an eating contest among these big guys, J. P. knows who'd win. "Trevor Canfield would definitely win if there was one. He's the eater out of the group. He gets it done." These guys may not have eating contests, but one of their weekly rituals does evolve around food. "Every Thursday during the season we have a steak dinner at Jeff Reinstatler's house. We also do one for the spring game. His mom and dad do a good job of getting us fed. We eat good that night." So what would be a normal meal for J. P. if he went to McDonald's and was pretty hungry? " Well, we're spending at least $7 to $8. I'm going dollar menu. Whatever looks good- a couple chicken sandwiches and a couple cheeseburgers. We're getting it done on the dollar menu."
J. P. was asked who's the toughest guy to block on the Bearcat defense. "I'm banging every day against Trevor Anderson so I've got to go with Trev. He brings it every day. He doesn't take plays off."
Last year the Bearcats gave up almost 4 sacks a game and rushed for only 3.2 yards per carry. Bearcat fans are hoping new blood on the offensive line like J.P. Simon will help UC improve in those crucial areas next year.