The 6-6 Fraser has packed on 20 pounds to get to 280. Yet, he is still displaying the fine agility he has shown in his first three years as a Buckeye. He wants to improve on a junior year, where he started 12 of 13 games but did not meet his own high expectations.
"I came out strong, but then toward the end of the year I wasn't getting as much pressure on the quarterback as I was hoping to," he said. "I had to go back this off-season, look at myself in the mirror, look at what I was doing wrong and try to fix it.
"I just worked on where my weaknesses were. I wanted to get stronger and keep my agility down. I focused on technique and where I was unsuccessful last year."
Fraser did tally 34 tackles last year. His career mark of 7-½ sacks is more than any other current Buckeye and he and outside linebacker A.J. Hawk each have a team-best 16-½ career tackles-for-loss.
Fraser has been one of defensive line coach Jim Heacock's prized pupils over the last several years. Now Heacock wants to see Fraser, a product of nearby Upper Arlington, deliver on the promise.
"Simon, he wants to play well," Heacock said. "He gets so excited he gets kind of caught up in it sometimes. But it means a lot to him. With Simon, you try and get him lined up and pointed in the right direction. If anything with Simon, you need to calm him down, not pick him up. His motor is running every down. With him, you just try and explain the situation. He's very intelligent. You say, `Here's what we need to do,' and he'll respond.
"He's worked hard. He's stronger. He's more physical than he has been. He's got the ability to play inside a little bit, so that gives us a nice little addition. We've done that the last couple of years with Kenny Peterson and Darrion Scott and now I think Simon will be able to help us out a little bit inside. His work ethic is really good."
Heacock will lean on Fraser as a leader. He is the only returning starter on the defensive line, which will be manned almost exclusively by underclassmen.
"My role is to get people prepared to go into battle and make sure everybody has their head on straight," Fraser said. "If they get down on themselves, I try and pick them up.
"We've got a lot of depth. A lot of guys have been stepping up so far. Especially in the early games, when we'll be facing the teams that are passing a lot, we will rotate them through. Hopefully, we will get two-deep at each spot."
Fraser was asked which of the young defensive linemen was making the strongest showing in camp.
"I don't think one person has stepped up," he said. "I mentioned David (Patterson) and Quinn (Pitcock) and Joel (Penton). They've really stepped up and done well. That will give us a big advantage on the inside to help us stop the run. Our linebackers will be strong, too. The biggest thing is we're coming together as a team and bonding. That's going to be big for us."
Over the last two years, Fraser helped OSU establish some high standards in total defense and rushing defense. Even though the names are changing, he expects the results to stay the same.
"We talk about that every day," Fraser said. "We want to keep that tradition going. We were the number one rush defense two years ago and we were in the top five this past year. We want to keep that going on.
"We're going to try to keep the same mentality and the same aggression that made us successful over the last two years. We've got a lot of good guys, especially the guys who got to play a little bit last season. They've been working really hard. We just have to work hard to get better every day."