Nov. 27, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio John Simon, the player coach Urban Meyer called the “heart and soul of our team,” was honored by the Big Ten Conference today with the Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year Award. This award comes in the wake of Simon being named the Smith-Brown defensive lineman of the year in the Big Ten on Monday.

“It means a lot to win this award,” Simon 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.”

Only the eighth two-time captain in school history, 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 led the Big Ten in quarterback sacks this year (9.0 for minus-73 yards) and ranked second 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.

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.

“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.”

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.