Simon Ready To Set Example For Buckeyes

Ohio State senior defensive lineman John Simon could have left after last season to begin his NFL career. Instead, the standout Buckeye is back at Ohio State, eager to not only improve as a player but as a leader.

There will be many changes for the Ohio State football team this year compared to last. One thing, however, will not be different.

John Simon will be a team captain.

New head coach Urban Meyer spoiled that piece of news Tuesday at his Spring Kick-Off event at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. When telling those in attendance that the Buckeyes will vote on captains this season, Meyer said he will have veto power if he does not agree with who the team picks. He then turned to Simon, who was one of several players in attendance.

"You're going to be a captain," Meyer said.

Meyer is a two-time BCS National Championship coach and has an impressive resume. Thus, when he heaped praise on Simon, the standout defensive lineman took notice.

"It was a tremendous honor," Simon said. "For someone with his track record to say something like that about me, it's great. But we've got a lot of great guys on this team who are just like me. We go in every day and work hard."

Unsurprisingly to anyone who has met him, Simon was being modest in the second half of that quote. While there are plenty of potential leaders on Ohio State's roster, none are quite like the Youngstown Cardinal Mooney product. Simon is a workout warrior, so much so that Meyer said that Donald Duck could be OSU's strength coach if Simon was the only player in the weight room.

His production is not limited to workouts, either. Simon earned third-team All-America honors last season after leading the Buckeyes with seven sacks and 15 tackles for loss. He did so by doing a little bit of everything on the defensive line. Simon began the season as an end who would move inside on passing downs, but with the loss of fellow end Nathan Williams to injury, Simon moved into Williams' Leo position, one that requires the player to drop into coverage and making him the team's primary pass rusher.

Williams is inactive this spring, still rehabbing the knee injury that sidelined him last season, but he should be back in the fall. In the mean time, Simon is working on becoming a better leader.

"I'm really just trying to step up that leadership role this year," Simon said. "We've got a lot of guys who can do that job on this team, and I want to be one of them myself. I think we're doing a nice job. We're really getting after the younger guys, and it's going well so far."

Simon might not be the leader he wants to become yet, but his teammates already know think very highly of him.

"He's a sick dude," senior offensive lineman Jack Mewhort said. "His dedication level on and off the field is just incredible. I always tell people that I'll never meet another guy like John Simon in my life.

"Fifty years from now I'll be telling people about him. You can see the fire in his eyes ou there. He's just a pure competitor if I've ever met one. I love going against him. It makes me better."

Mewhort added that Simon does not have to say much to get his point across.

"He doesn't need to say a lot. His play speaks for him," Mewhort said. "He'll say stuff when he has to, but he's the definition of the term leader. We love him and we're really lucky he stuck around for his senior year."

Simon is still a Buckeye - and still at times impossible to stop.

"He's just relentless," senior tight end Jake Stoneburner said. "You can't block him. It's simple. You can't block him. I feel bad for other offensive lines because they're just not going to be able to block him."

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