Simon Sacks Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — He’s been compared to Tim Tebow. He’s been called the heart and soul of the Buckeyes. He’s even had his head coach joke about naming a child after him.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Now John Simon is the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
The Big Ten Conference announced Tuesday that Simon had won the Nagurski-Woodson Award as the top defensive player in the conference, beating out teammate Ryan Shazier, Michigan linebacker Jake Ryan and Penn State’s Michael Mauti among others.
“It means a lot to win this award,” Ohio State’s senior captain said.
“It is truly a great honor, but first and foremost it is a team award. I wouldn’t be given this award if it weren’t for the great play of my teammates … great coverage in the back end and guys taking up blocks on the front end. I praise those guys for helping me get this and that is what it is all about.”
The senior out of Youngstown Cardinal Mooney led the Buckeyes, and the Big Ten, with nine 9.0 this season (for minus-73 yards) and ranked second in the conference with 14.5 tackles-for-loss, totaling minus-87 yards – both Top 25 marks nationally.
Those numbers boosted Simon to No. 7 all-time in both categories in school history, with 20.5 sacks and 43.0 TFLs.
“I think everyone knows how highly I think of John Simon,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said.
“He is absolutely one of the finest young men I have had the privilege to coach. His determination and effort and selfless approach are second to none, and there is no better player or person to be honored with this player of the year award.”
Only the eighth two-time captain in school history, Simon is the first Buckeye to win defensive player of the year in the Big Ten since linebacker James Laurinaitis captured the award in back-to-back years from 2007-08. Other OSU players who have won it since it’s inception in 1990 include Steve Tovar, Shawn Springs, Mike Doss, Will Smith and A.J. Hawk.
Simon started 37 consecutive games before a knee injury sidelined him for the final game of the season, a 26-21 win over Michigan that completed a 12-0 regular season for the No. 4-ranked Buckeyes.
“It was extremely tough to have to stay on the sidelines that last game and to watch your family go out there and play,” Simon said.
“But they stepped up and got the win and I’ve never been more proud of a group of guys in all my life.”
Simon, a third-team Associated Press All-American in 2011, is a semifinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy for the second consecutive year. Student-athletes for this national award are considered based on academic standing, community contributions, leadership skills and overall character.
“John is a great leader,” former OSU head coach Jim Tressel who recruited Simon to the Buckeyes told the-Ozone.
“The way he prepared, we had nothing to do with it. If you walk in John Simon's front door at his home there's a weight room. Most people have their television and a sofa, you walk in the front door of the Simon house and there's a weight room.”
Simon was twice named Big Ten defensive player of the week this year: after a school-record tying 5.0 TFLs for minus-24 yards (two sacks) and forced a fumble vs. Nebraska; and after another dominating effort, vs. Wisconsin with 4.0 sacks for minus-36 yards. He was named the Bednarik, Lott IMPACT and Performance Award national defensive player of the week after the Nebraska game.
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