Simon shined on a cold morning in Ohio Stadium, recording a pair of sacks for 25 yards and scoring the only touchdown of the scrimmage. Following a botched shotgun snap from center Michael Brewster to quarterback Terrelle Pryor near the goal line, Simon fell on the loose ball after it slipped through Pryor's hands. Simon also knocked down one Pryor pass – one of several times he's batted down a throw this spring when the media have been permitted to watch practice.
The defensive line starred during the scrimmage, helping the unit register several sacks and forcing turnovers. On a line that features a pair of seniors in Cameron Heyward and Dexter Larimore, Simon may not be the first lineman opponents will prepare for this fall, but that might change.
Simon was not made available to the media following the jersey scrimmage, but a pair of his linemates had plenty to say about the 6-2, 270-pound Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney product.
"We had a big rotation last year (at defensive line), and for him to step in was huge," Heyward said. "I think getting that experience from last year is going to make him that much better this year. A lot of guys don't know about him, but they better be ready for Johnny Simon."
Larimore knows as well as anyone how talented Simon is. Simon saw his playing time increase last season when Larimore missed four games because of a knee injury suffered at Indiana.
"If I tried to come in as a true freshman, I don't know if I could have done what he did," Larimore said. "I think he's grown a lot mentally. He's one of those guys that is always in there watching film. He's one of those guys you cannot get out of the weight room.
"I don't know if he goes to class or if he has a life," Larimore joked. "He's always working out. If you want to find Johnny on any day, you just have to check the weight room. There's where you'll find him."
Simon made 15 tackles last season, including four tackles for a loss. He also recorded a sack and forced a fumble against Minnesota. This spring he has lined up primarily as the right defensive tackle in OSU's 4-3 defense. When the Buckeyes use a three-lineman look, Simon has been an end.
No matter where he is before the snap, it's likely he'll have affected the quarterback before the whistle blows. His drive to constantly improve has been evident since he arrived on campus after a stellar career at Cardinal Mooney in which he became a five-star prospect according to Scout.com.
"He always wants to get better, and he's got a hunger for more," Heyward said. "He's going to be a great player here because he wants to be. With that kind of attitude, it's only going to make him successful."