Leader of Men

Youngstown Cardinal Mooney star Johnny Simon was on hand two weeks ago when Ohio State entertained several 2009 recruits at the basketball game against Indiana. Simon, who committed to Ohio State in December, wanted the opportunity to meet with the Buckeye staff and interact with some of his future teammates. Bill Greene has more.

"It was a great time at Ohio State," Johnny Simon said, of his trip to Columbus. "The coaches were great and welcomed my entire family with open arms. I spent time with Coach [Jim] Tressel and also Coach [Luke] Fickell. Coach Tressel said how glad he was to have me come and visit. He was real excited to have a lot of the guys that are already committed show up. He took us on a tour of the Woody Hayes Complex. That was a tremendous place to see."

Simon also spent time with defensive coordinator Jim Heacock, and the two of them discussed how Simon would fit into the Ohio State defensive scheme.

"Coach Heacock and I have a great relationship, so it was good to see him again," Simon explained. "He said I will be starting out at defensive tackle. It doesn't matter to me. I just want to play anywhere I can help the team win. I like the scheme that they run at Ohio State and I feel it's a system I can be very comfortable with. I'm looking forward to being a part of this defense."

Simon has been to Ohio State several times in the past two years, but admitted he had a different feeling being there as a committed player.

"It was great being in Columbus as a part of the Buckeye family," Simon stated. "It's a great experience once you are part of the family. I got a little different feeling being there as a future Buckeye. I'm 100% Buckeye and that's a great feeling. I hung out with Storm Klein, Jordan Whiting and Adam Homan. We feel like we're all brothers, and we're going to be teammates one day. I talked with all of them about how happy I am to be associated with a bunch of great guys."

Simon didn't only spend time with players already committed to Ohio State. He also developed relationships with players the Buckeyes are hoping to secure future commitments from.

"I talked with Melvin Fellows, and a few other guys," he said. "Coach Tressel wanted the guys who were already committed to be there to make the other recruits feel comfortable. Melvin and I hit it off real well, even though he is committed to Illinois. Melvin and I exchanged phone numbers and we promised each other we would stay in touch. He is a great guy. I also spent some time with Mike Brewster. This was the first time I met him in person. Brewster is a great guy and it was cool being able to finally meet him."

Since Mike Brewster was the driving force behind the 2008 recruiting class, it's only natural to assume Simon and the others would try to emulate Brewster and attempt to help build the 2009 class.

"Storm, Adam and myself know what Brewster and Mike Adams did last year," he admitted. "We have a great group of guys already in our class and I'm excited to see how good this class can become. We will definitely be keeping in touch with the players that Ohio State has offered. We will do our part."

Simon is a player that is never satisfied with his own development. He is the type of person that will strive to make himself better as a football player.

"I'm spending time with my teammates at Mooney right now," Simon explained. "We are trying to develop a team chemistry first. We are bonding well as a team. We lost some great senior leaders and I need to help build our team through my leadership. Personally, I need to keep working out and spending time with my teammates in the weight room. My teammates make me better. I'm 6-foot-3, and weigh 270-pounds right now. I'd like to play at 280-pounds next year, but I need to add weight the right way. I need to stay fast and quick, while adding strength. I also need to stay focused on my schoolwork. My parents have always stressed my academic career more than football. I currently have a 3.7 GPA, but I can do better. I want to finish strong on the football field and in the classroom at Mooney. I'm excited to get to Ohio State because my sister is a student here. It will be great for my parents to have both of us at the same school. That means a lot to me to have her at the same school."

If you think John Simon is a special young man, you would be correct. A lot is written about how good John Simon is as a football player. The accolades are deserved, but don't overlook the quality of this young man as a leader and as a great student. Once you get to know John Simon, it's easy to understand why every college in America would love to have him representing them.

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