Simon Excited To Make It Official

He has been verbally committed for more than a year now, but National Signing Day finally allowed Johnny Simon the chance to make it official. Find out his thoughts on signing day and what he hopes to accomplish moving forward as his Ohio State career gets underway.

YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO – With snow flying outside, Johnny Simon spent the morning of National Signing Day officially becoming an Ohio State Buckeye.

At a modest press conference in his high school's library, the five-star defensive tackle prospect from Cardinal Mooney put pen to paper and signed his national letter of intent stating his desire to play football in Columbus. Flanked by his parents, John and Renee, Simon sat at a round table that seemed ill-equipped to handle a player of his size.

"Today's a great honor that I'm entering the Buckeye family," he told just before faxing his letter in. "I'm real excited about that. It seems like I've been waiting for it for a while. It's exciting that today is finally the day."

With that, the state's Division IV defensive player of the year was officially a Buckeye. The day was almost anti-climactic for a player like Simon, who had first issued his verbal commitment to the program one day after Christmas, 2007.

Since them, Simon said he has kept in touch with other members of the class of 2009 as it eventually grew to 25 members.

"I keep in touch with a lot of them weekly," he said. "They're all very excited."

The Buckeyes are excited about landing a player with Simon's physical attributes. Listed at 6-3, 265 pounds, he is one of three five-star prospects as ranked by in OSU's class.

"I'm honored by that fact," he said. "I'm hoping to make a big impact, but I feel that we're all equal in the recruiting class. We're all coming in fresh as freshmen so we're all going to have the same opportunity."

A viewpoint like that is not surprising for a player like Simon, Mooney head coach P.J. Fecko said.

"It's been well-documented how good he is on the field and what an athlete he is and all those things, but I think that the one thing that's going to be sorely missed is how John is off the field," he said. "John is a quality person with high character and a great leader. When you have those types of things for a guy off the field, those are the parts that are really missed."

Simon said he is hoping to make a quick impact when he gets to Columbus by impressing the coaching staff with his physicality and work ethic – the two traits OSU's coaches told him they admire in him.

Fecko said he feels that Simon will be able to fit nicely into head coach Jim Tressel's program.

"I think he's going to be highly successful," he said. "It's a great mix. The program that Coach Tressel has down there and the things that they do, John fits well. John is an ultimate team player, a highly disciplined person, somebody that is very dedicated to his team and somebody that's going to be successful."

In addition to Tressel, OSU defensive line coach and defensive coordinator Jim Heacock helped recruit Simon for the Buckeyes.

"He's just a great coach," Simon said. "You could tell he's just a hard worker. He really gets after it every day. That's a big reason why I chose Ohio State."

An alumnus of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Simon will be joined at OSU on the defensive line by another five-star talent in Garfield Heights, Ohio, end Melvin Fellows.

"That would be great," he said. "We're really looking forward to getting after it and hopefully playing side by side."

In addition to his relationships with a number of the players set to attend OSU this fall, Simon said he grew close with quarterback Tajh Boyd before he committed to Clemson as the two played in the Army game. Despite the fact that Boyd spurned the Buckeyes for the Tigers, Simon said the two stay in contact and that he does not begrudge Boyd's decision.

"I was close to Tajh Boyd and I still am even though he committed to Clemson," he said. "He had a great game. We're all very close. I feel like we're a family already coming into Ohio State.

"He has to pick what's best for him, and I really respect that. I think he made a great decision so he's very excited about it. I support him all the way."

As for himself, Simon said he feels there is still plenty of work to be done before he can be considered a player worthy of his five-star ranking.

"I can improve everywhere," he said. "I'm just working hard right now, trying to improve all attributes of my game so when I get to college I'm ready to go."

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