Oct. 17, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ohio – John Simon’s aggressive, relentless pursuit of all things Blue and Orange Saturday in Champaign, Ill., has earned the junior defensive tackle from Youngstown, Ohio, with the Defensive Player of the Week Award from the Big Ten Conference. The Big Ten award, the first by a Buckeye this season, was one of numerous awards for Simon this week. On a national scale, Simon was named the Lott IMPACT Player of the Week and the College Football Performance Award’s National Defensive Lineman of the Week.
Simon spearheaded an Ohio State defense with a career-high eight tackles, including a career-high four tackles-for-loss, in the team’s 17-7 road win over 16th-ranked and previously unbeaten Illinois. Simon’s TFLs included two quarterback sacks and totaled 16 yards in losses. The total was one off the school record of five held by Andy Katzenmoyer (vs. Arizona State in 1996), Jayson Gwinn (vs. Indiana in 1993) and Judah Herman (vs. Iowa in 1991).
“The thing about John is you know he’s going to be there, working every single day to get better at what he does,” Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell said after the game.
“He’s a warrior,” said defensive coordinator Jim Heacock.
Simon and the Buckeyes limited the Illini to 27 points below their average and to just 285 total yards after entering averaging almost 450 yards per game. The defense forced three Illini turnovers – two interceptions and a fumble – with two directly setting up Ohio State points. Bradley Roby’s third quarter interception – his third of the season – gave Ohio State the ball at the Illinois 12 and Dan Herron scored one play later. Tyler Moeller’s fourth-quarter forced fumble, Storm Klein’s recovery and a personal foul penalty on the play gave Ohio State the ball at the Illinois 22. Three plays later Braxton Miller hit Jake Stoneburner with a 17-yard TD pass for a 17-0 Ohio State lead.
Illinois’s only score came on a 16-play drive that consumed nearly seven minutes off the clock midway through the fourth quarter. Ohio State’s “D” then closed out the game with a Travis Howard interception before holding Illinois on downs to stop its final drive.
Sophomore defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins also had a career-high tackling day for the Buckeyes, finishing with nine, including two TFLs. C.J. Barnett and Etienne Sabino had eight and seven hard hits, respectively, while Christian Bryant had two passes defensed.
In recognition of Simon’s performance, the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation, sponsors of the Lott IMPACT Trophy, will make a $1,000 donation to the general scholarship fund at Ohio State.