Last week’s typical Thursday feature was pre-empted in lieu of the ongoing Madness. However, with that Madness subsiding over the week, and the condition being downgraded from Madness to a mild delirium — or probably just a nausea or upset stomach, I continue with these features.
In this 10th installment of the 2nd edition of this now 25-part series titled Better Know A Buckeye, I continue proceeding chronologically with John Simon. Simon, a defensive tackle prospect from Youngstown’s Cardinal Mooney program, was the 3rd commitment in the 2009 class behind the previously better known Jordan Whiting and Storm Klein. Simon, like so many of his peers in this particular class, had a relatively easy decision-making process: Ohio State is where he wanted to be; good Ohio kids aspire to play at Ohio State; Ohio State offered; Simon didn’t waste much time in accepting said offer. Done and done. However simplifying — or even patronizing — of a typology that is, there are still interesting things to discuss regarding John’s recruitment to Ohio State and his eventual commitment on December 26, 2007. After reviewing the decision-making process, I examine Simon’s strengths and areas for improvement before mentioning miscellaneous things about Simon. Afterwards, I conclude that John Simon is better known and put him on the proverbial board.
Disgustingly Good Bench Stat: 48 reps of 225lbs; max: 445lbs; squat: 700lbs
High School: Cardinal Mooney HS; Youngstown, OH
His RecruitmentDan McCarthy (Notre Dame signee) Taylor Hill (Michigan signee, transfer to Youngstown State), Brandon Beachum and Mike Zordich, who both signed with Penn State. Still, in spite of the presence of these future D-1 signees ahead of him, the sophomore John Simon turned some heads as well by February 2007. Simon had just concluded his sophomore season as an integral part of the 2006 state championship team and had weight-lifting numbers that were unheard of for a young man his age. He could bench 225 with the same ease that most of us exhibit while benching thin air. He wasn’t even 17 yet and could already muster 31 reps of 225lbs. While Simon insisted then — and still does — that his lifting is strictly instrumental (for improved performance on the gridiron), he had the credentials of someone working towards being an American Gladiator. Whatever the case, Simon was only 16 and already had the frame of someone who could play D-1 football. Interest in him was coming in quickly.
John, with the blessing of his family, enrolled in some football summer camps at Notre Dame, Pitt and Ohio State. The last one he attended was at Ohio State, which was a blast for Simon. He liked the competition at the camps and got along with many of the young kids there with him. He also enjoyed getting personal instruction from Jim Heacock, coach of his position (DL), and talked about how some of the tricks Heacock showed him should help Simon in his junior year at Cardinal Mooney. While John expressed an affinity for the people at the camp, some important higher-ups were apparently developing an affinity to him. In fact, the interest in John was so great that rumors started after camp that John had received a verbal offer. Little written confirmation on the offer was available immediately following the camp, but most people in the know on Ohio State recruiting confirmed that a verbal offer was extended to Simon. It was only the second verbal offer extended to an O’Niner by Ohio State, following the aforementioned Storm Klein. Still, little was said about the offer, and John wasn’t helping. When asked about the offer, John basically pleaded the fifth. While it obviously wasn’t a show of contempt for Ohio State, saying “no comment” about the offer is rather unique.some big time programs started sending offers. Ohio State came through with their verbal offer when their offer arrived in the mail in early September. Nebraska also offered on September 1st, which was before Bo Pelini (another Mooney grad) took the helm of the Cornhuskers. Stanford and Akron joined the Buckeyes and Huskers on that day. Notre Dame wasn’t too far behind with an offer as well. The scholarship offer was a pretty strategic one by Weis. He had an inroad with Dan McCarthy in the 2008 class (ended up signing him), who went to the Notre Dame camp with Simon. In fact, while not recruiting “per se”, McCarthy did chat up Notre Dame’s tradition and personnel with Simon while at that camp, helping create a favorable impression of the overall experience. Simon’s scholarship total rose to 6 by the end of October when Iowa and Boston College offered. His total expanded to 8 when Illinois and Pitt came through with offers as well. Penn State, obvious benefactors of the Mooney program, were likely going to offer Simon a scholarship too, but were going to wait until after the 2008 signing day (as is their custom). In short, while John Simon said he’d like to have a decision made before his senior year, he made that much of a splash early into the process that he would have no shortage of options to choose from. If he wanted to, he could draw the process out and probably elicit offers from just about anyone.
John Simon insisted that he had no “favorite” growing up. There was no team that he rooted for above all others. He was a fan of football first. Further, the Mooney program is so accustomed to sending their alumni to elite D-1 football programs that it’d be improbable for Simon to be rash with a decision or so caught up by one offer that he’d jump on it immediately. Still, there was plenty of reason to think Simon had a favorite, and had one for a while. That favorite: Ohio State. By time he was in his junior season, Simon already had been down there a few times. He was at the 2007 Spring Game, visited for a summer camp, and was at the Ohio State-Akron game. His sister was also a freshman at Ohio State; I can only imagine he took a trip down there to help her move in.
While still “no comment”-ing about his verbal offer from the Buckeyes in the summer in light of gushing about the experience, Simon admitted that the Buckeye program is a bit special.
Simon doesn’t proclaim to be a rabid Ohio State fan but he is a fan of the Buckeyes.
“I don’t have a favorite team but I do like Ohio State,” said Simon who attended Ohio State’s spring game in April. “I like a lot of teams but I root for Ohio State.”
In late August, Simon told a Notre Dame Scout.com how much he liked Notre Dame’s tradition. Yet, in that same interview, he listed Ohio State first in the set of schools in which he was interested. Perhaps it’s just all the schema theory and cognitive psych background I have from my time at Ohio State, but I’m convinced that this implicitly reveals preferences — stable or fluid — every time.
“I’ve got a few early favorites I like Ohio State, Notre Dame… I like Notre Dame for sure, Pitt and Penn State.”
Better yet, here’s how he described the Ohio State offer to a Nebraska Scout.com affiliate when they inquired about the Nebraska offer.
On September 1, when juniors could pick up their written offers, Simon said that four teams were first to extend offers. One of the offers was definitely very exciting to pick up.
“Yes sir, I got Ohio State, Nebraska, Stanford and Akron on September 1. I was very excited about the Ohio State offer. It was what I was hoping for.”
John still held to some kind of poker face when he insisted that Mooney football came first. He said he would not do anything that would be a distraction from winning another state championship for the Cardinal Mooney Cardinals. However, the obvious indicators were still here. Rumors started around his high school where Simon was just assumed to be an Ohio State lock while Mooney was preparing for another state title run. Simon didn’t really offer a “no” in response. He also talked about his friendship with Buckeye verbal Storm Klein.
“Storm is a great friend and a great player,” Simon said. “He is really fired up that they’re doing well in the playoffs. I talk with him pretty often and we’ll probably talk tomorrow about how out games went this weekend. Storm and I got to be pretty good friends last summer at the Ohio State football camp.”
Simon took his recruitment up a notch when the 2007 season eventually ended for the Cardinals. He along, with Storm Klein, visited Ohio State for a bowl practice for that other national title game that I don’t feel merits too much discussion. It may be very, very clever writing by Gary Housteau, but Simon seemed to juxtapose his upcoming visit and his super-secret favorite in a very curious manner. Observe:
Is there a favorite school already in his own mind?
“There probably is, yeah. But I’m going to keep that quiet for now,” Simon said. “Hopefully it’s the place where I want to be. But we’ll see.”
He’ll attend a bowl practice at Ohio State on Saturday. He’s actually hoping that his good friend Storm Klein will be able to attend the practice session with him.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Simon said. “It should be a great experience.”
Try as he might to admirably take his recruiting a serious endeavor with an agnostic disposition, the internets had him long sniffed out as a kid who really liked Ohio State. All he needed was some confirmation of that sentiment and the aforementioned practice did the trick. A day after Christmas on 2007, Ohio State got a belated Christmas present when John Simon committed to the Buckeyes’ 2009 class. Heacock was on the receiving end when Simon called to let the coaching staff know about his decision.
As I indicated at the end of the first section in this feature, it really was no coincidence that his super secret favorite was juxtaposed right next to his excitement to see the bowl practice. Though he was definitely open to Notre Dame, Ohio State had long been at the top of his list.
“I was thinking Ohio State already and then when I went to the Bowl practice I loved everything there and that’s when I definitely knew where I wanted to go,” Simon said. “So I waited for a little bit and wanted to be sure Ohio State was where I wanted to be and I decided to make the commitment.”
He also mentioned a great love for the coaching staff, as recruits that end up at Ohio State often do. Specifically, he liked the atmosphere they conveyed in his visits, where the coaching staff worked very visibly as a team and a cohesive unit.
Simon was the third verbal in the class, behind Jordan Whiting and good friend Storm Klein. He also initiated a good 3 day stretch for 2009 recruiting. Jack Mewhort and Adam Homan committed on the 28th and 29th respectively.
Where He Excels
You may have already inferred this from the pictures, but John Simon is a big ol’ boy. Think of him as an anthropomorphized mule in the trenches. Most kids come from the high school ranks to programs like Ohio State very much underdeveloped with their frame. Truly, they “grow into their frames”. John Simon isn’t one of them. He, like Jordan Whiting are already built to play. Simon, in fact, had the frame of an NFL linebacker by his junior year. That’s no hyperbole either. There’s all muscle on his 285lb frame.
Strength is his obvious asset. Simon was an impossible blocking assignment for opposing teams unless he was double-teamed and/or there was a fullback or tailback sitting back as a worst case scenario. Further, at no point could one of those two lineman blocking him pull to get to the second level (like on draw plays). There was a good chance that Simon would quickly toss off his blocker and blow up the tailback at the line of scrimmage. Teams would be wise not to roll-out, since Simon could shed off his double team and chase down the quarterback. Containing Simon in high school involved having to know where he was at all times, double-teaming him, staying in the pocket and using quick throws to neutralize his presence. It’s one of those counterfactual instances that ultimately means nothing, but there’s good reason to believe that a senior Mike Adams was the only one in the state of Ohio capable of going one-on-one with a junior John Simon. There’s footage of him scrimmaging against Marcus Hall where even the Army All-American had his hands full.
Strength is simply more than just tossing off blockers. With so much upper body strength, Simon is better able to power through traffic, fill and even shoot through gaps. Never underestimate how much a strong upper body means to simply moving with authority. Most kids that don’t have it tend to creep up in their stance because they don’t know how to control themselves. That’s not John Simon.
Must Work On
I like reading that Simon treats weightlifting as strictly instrumental to gridiron performance. He’s aware of the difference of lifting for mass and lifting for endurance. He focuses a lot now on the latter and he’d be wise to continue doing so. As Ohio State fans know all too well, mass and strength mean so very little if the opposing offensive line is just faster and better conditioned than you. Defensive line speed is something the Buckeyes could use, especially in the interior. I’d love if John focused as much on faster hand-shooting and more explosion after the snap as he did on just getting bigger and stronger. If he does, he’d be an incredible asset to Jim Heacock’s group.
I think for the first time in these features for this year, I get to say “probably”. If Goebel redshirted, I think there’s reason to believe Simon will too. Moreover, Doug Worthington and Dexter Larimore also redshirted. Redshirting defensive tackles seems to be Heacock’s general policy. In 2009, there’ll be plenty of options at the position, to where Simon may be consigned to the next installment of “scout team monster”. That part was played by Garrett Goebel in 2008.
- You’re probably as curious about that awesome Buckstached man that is John’s father and why he looks like he’ built like a large tool shed. Here’s some background on John’s old man.
“My dad’s actually a big lifter,” Simon said. “He taught me what I know and I’m going to keep working hard in the weight room. I like to do all of the football lifts. I like everything about lifting and I make it a big part of my life.”
- John Simon’s father is John Simon III and a former offensive lineman for the Cardinal Mooney Cardinals. I think this makes John Simon a IV. Does it not?
- John Simon was one of 5 future Buckeyes to play in the US Army All-American Bowl, joining Jamie Wood, Marcus Hall, Dorian Bell and Corey Brown.
- Simon is a big fan of Brian Urlacher, and hence the #54 he wore for Mooney and expects to wear at Ohio State.
- Simon’s high school team won the 2006 state championship, but failed to repeat after falling in the finals the next year to Coldwater. One of the lead actors in that furious comeback by the Coldwater Cavaliers was Adam Homan, future teammate at Ohio State.
- Simon’s senior season was a bit of a letdown. They won in the Herbstreit Challenge by beating Convington Catholic 57-0. They beat Akron SVSM (Lebron James’ old stomping grounds). They beat Buffalo St. Francis (Doug Worthington’s alma mater) in an out-of-state matchup. However, they lost to Ursuline (Jamel Turner‘s school) and opened the season with a loss to Mentor. They finished second in conference and were bounced by Steubenville in the regional semifinal.
- As mentioned earlier, Simon’s older sister is currently enrolled at Ohio State and had no semblance of homesickness. Her wonderful experience as an Ohio State student, to where she didn’t want to come home when on break, left some kind of impression on John. Indeed, if she was having such a wonderful time, then it must be a great place.
- John is apparently something of a fashion neanderthal. He’s acquired the nickname “All Flannel Tops” at 11w because of Jamie Wood’s comments about his lack of style.
- 11W’s “Catching Up With” feature on Simon illuminated some more of his interesting attributes. He will major in exercise science because he wants to be a strength coach, can actually bench more than his old man at the moment, and is in no way apologetic about his fashion sense.
- Unlike many other college football players, football was the only sport Simon played in high school. He was a pretty good baseball player, but dropped the sport as an upperclassmen to focus on football.
- Believe it or not, he was a quarterback at all levels of football before he enrolled in Cardinal Mooney.
- Woody probably would’ve loved John Simon. Reading about military history was the hobby mentioned by Simon in his Bucknuts Signing Day feature.
- Some stats, pre-compiled by Bucknuts.
Vital statistics: As a senior, he tallied 148 tackles, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, 13 tackles-for-loss and 11 sacks. He helped Mooney go 9-3 and reach the Division IV regional finals. Simon was a Division IV first-team All-Ohio pick as well as a co-state defensive player of the year, according to The Associated Press. He was also a first-team pick on the ONN/All-Ohio team.
Rankings: He is rated as the No. 4 overall senior prospect in Ohio, according to Ohio High magazine. Also rated as the No. 5 overall prospect in the state, according to The Ohio Football Recruiting News. Simon is rated as the nation’s 16th-best defensive tackle. SuperPrep considers Simon as an All-American, ranking him as 19th-best prospect in the Midwest and the nation’s No. 29 defensive lineman. Simon was also listed in the Detroit Free Press Best of the Midwest team, ranking at No. 11 in the Midwest.
If it’s okay with everyone involved, I think John Simon is now better known.
|Class of 2009|
|Name||Position||Hometown||Better Known?||Name||Position||Hometown||Better Known?|
|CJ Barnett||DB||Clayton, OH||02.20||Marcus Hall||OL||Glenville, OH|
|Dorian Bell||LB||Monroeville, PA||Adam Homan||FB||Coldwater, OH||01.29|
|Adam Bellamy||DT||Aurora, OH||Carlos Hyde||RB||Naples, FL|
|Jaamal Berry||RB||Miami, FL||James Jackson||WR||Grand Ledge, TSUN||03.05|
|Zach Boren||FB||Pickerington, OH||01.22||Storm Klein||LB||Nerk, Ahia||02.02|
|Corey Brown||WR/DB||Monroeville, PA||Corey Linsley||OL||Youngstown, OH|
|Duron Carter||WR||Ft. Lauderdale, FL||Sam Longo||OL||Belbrook, OH|
|Dominic Clarke||DB||Frederick MD||02.11||Jack Mewhort||OL||Toledo, OH||02.05|
|Melvin Fellows’ Safari Planet||DE||Garfield Heights, OH||Jonathan Newsome||LB/DE||Glenville, OH|
|Chris Fields||WR||Painesville, OH||John Simon||DE||Youngstown, OH||03.26|
|Reid Fragel||TE||Grosse Pointe, TSUN||Jordan Whiting||LB||Louisville, KY||03.12|
|Kenny Guiton||QB||Aldine, TX||Jamie Wood||DB||Pickerington, OH||02.26|
|Jordan Hall||ATH||Jeannette, PA|