Final countdown: Impact player No. 2
August, 30, 2012
By Austin Ward | ESPN.com
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Training camp is over and game preparations have begun. The torture of the offseason is nearly over, and Ohio State's first game under Urban Meyer is closing in. Leading up to the opener against Miami (Ohio), BuckeyeNation will count down the 10 players who figure to have the biggest impact on Meyer's first campaign, closing in on the top spot with the most valuable defensive player.
- POSITION: Defensive end
- BASICS: The tireless, fanatical workout machine will enter his senior season with 263 pounds on his 6-foot-2 frame, which would likely still allow him to take a few snaps on the interior if needed. That probably won't be necessary given the depth the Buckeyes have up front -- and how much they're expecting from Simon on the edge.
- BY THE NUMBERS: Simon's statistical progression over his career is remarkable. Forget gradually improving, when it comes to tackles for a loss, he's essentially doubled them every year after starting with four as a freshman. The math isn't perfect since he improved from 8.5 as a sophomore to 16 last season, and it's going to be tough to keep up that sort of pace this fall. But it does provide yet another example of his nonstop pursuit of improvement.
- OPPORTUNITY FOR IMPACT: Simon may set the tone with his leadership and commitment, and his production certainly helps as well. But with plenty of support from his teammates on a deep, talented line, Simon doesn't exactly have to carry the load all on his own -- which could allow him to have an even bigger impact in the opposing backfield. Garrett Goebel will occupy blockers in the middle, Johnathan Hankins creates his own issues for offensive lineman at tackle and Michael Bennett can wreak havoc on the other end, so teams can't just focus attention on Simon. And that could create more than a few headaches for coaches and quarterbacks in the Big Ten.
- HE SAID IT: "It’s a tremendous honor to be a captain, especially being voted by your teammates. That means a lot. Proud of all the captains we’ve got, we have a great group of guys and it’s our job to lead well and be responsible this year. It's a great honor to be voted by teammates two years in a row. It definitely means a lot to me, to even be a one-time captain is an amazing opportunity and it’s our job to just go make the most of it." -- Simon on becoming just the seventh two-time captain in Ohio State history