He Must Workout

By Jeff Beck on May 9, 2012 at 4:00p
Run For Your LifeOh you don't tie your shoes? That's cute

John Simon made headlines recently as one of 42 players named to the preseason Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list. His inclusion wasn’t a surprise, the soon to be senior’s  name has been popping up again and again as a guy primed to be a leader in Meyer’s defense this upcoming season.

As most trips down the Internet rabbit hole begin, his mention on the list made me Google him producing pictures like this, which made me terrified hopeful that he will make a big impact in 2012, which in turn got me thinking about something else.

It’s clear Simon is passionate about throwin’ the weights around. When he’s not on the football field convincing QB’s that handing the ball off would have been a more prudent choice, he’s in class studying to be an exercise science major. The phrase workout-warrior comes to mind, which reminds me of the last OSU defensive lineman to be given the same moniker: Vernon Gholston.

Yes Mt. Vernon’s name has become synonymous with the term, especially in the NFL. Unfortunately for him, that’s not a compliment. Instead of performing legendary feats on the field, he’s been relegated to the status of a cautionary scouting tale; a warning for saucer-eyed NFL types wowed by incredible combine feats to think again. Gholston’s speedy 4.65 40 yard dash and then combine record tying 37 reps on the bench never coalesced into strong performances on Sundays. It didn’t take long for the former first round pick, now current free agent to prove that he probably doesn’t have what it takes to play in the NFL.

On the surface, Gholston and Simon seem very similar. Besides being gun-show compadres, both are hybrid athletes utilized similarly at Ohio State as rushers who could attack from the upright or dug in position. Both have also been described as too undersized to play D-line in the NFL. In fact, Gholston was moved to outside linebacker during his time with the Jets. With so many similarities, the question must be asked: Is Simon headed toward Gholston’s same fate? Comparing their Buckeye careers could help to shed some light on the issue.

Gholston (6-3, 260lbs).
What gets lost in the combine hoopla is the fact that Gholston had an amazing junior year. He broke the school record for sacks in a season with 14.5 a distinction formerly held by current defensive line coach Mike Vrabel (13 sacks during the ’95 season). Gholston also had a beastly November notching 4 sacks in a single game against Wisconsin (a school record) and following that up with a 3 sack game against Michigan two weeks later.

Gholston decided to forgo his senior season leaving college ball with an impressive stat sheet. During his career as a Buckeye he tallied 87 total tackles, 30.5 tackles for loss, 22.5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery for a TD and 1 interception. He racked up a number of awards including a Second-team All-Big Ten nod in 2006 and a First Team All-Big Ten selection in 2007 as well as taking home Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year and First Team All-American honors. 

Not too shabby for a guy that only played two complete seasons after an injury in his freshman opener sidelined him for the entire 2005 season.

Simon (6-2, 260)
While I’m sure being dubbed “Tebowish” was an honor in of itself, Simon has managed to rack up a number of other impressive career accomplishments in his 3 seasons at Ohio State.

Run For Your Life Vol. 2Which way to the weight room?

To-date, J.S. has tallied 110 total tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 6 pass breakups, and 1 fumble recovery for a TD. The Cardinal Mooney product has also collected quite a bit of hardware including a 2010 coaches and media Big Ten Defensive Honorable Mention, a 2011 First Team All-Big Ten (Coaches) nod, a 2011 Second Team All-Big Ten (Media) selection, as well as a Third Team All-American selection.

He also wins the award for baddest photograph snapped during that whole “season that never happened.”

Specifically looking at each players’ last two college seasons, Gholston averaged 43 tackles, 15 TFL, and 11 sacks while Simon averaged 47 tackles, 12 TFL and 7 sacks. Those numbers are very similar and with an entire senior season left to play, Simon’s season averages (with the exception of sacks) could indeed eclipse Gholston’s. 

Despite Gholston's freakish sack total in 2007, I’ve got to give the edge to Simon in this comparison. He’s performed at a level comparable to Gholston and he’s done it with much less talent around him. Consider this, during Gholston’s record breaking 2007 he was one of three OSU players in consideration for the Bednarik award including Marcus Freeman and James Laurinaitis. Not to mention he had soon-to-be consensus All-American Malcolm Jenkins patrolling things at corner. That's a lot of killers to keep an eye on as an offense and there's bound to be a mismatch somewhere. Gholston, as talented as he was, benefitted from that.

Simon is also going to have an invaluable additional season to mature as a college player before making the jump, something I believe Gholston could have used. But, that’s easy for me to say as I have an overwhelming lack of millions of dollars staring me in the face.

At the end of the day, Simon’s dedication to the gym is undeniable and it’s earned him a nickname made infamous at the NFL level by a Buckeye predecessor. While their numbers are similar, their situations are different. Only time will tell whether Simon’s additional season of collegiate experience coupled with his ability to step up in a less talented defense will propel him from nickname to in-game at the NFL level.


Comments Show All Comments

Maestro's picture

Shoelace.........so dumb.

vacuuming sucks

Matt's picture

One thing to note about VGholston is that he never had his heart set on being a football player, which I think is sharply different than the case of Simon, who is a product of a football hotbed and was always destined for the gridiron.  The story goes that VG accompanied a friend freshman year in high school when this friend went to sign up for the football team.  The football coach noticed VG and this friend, as well as how gigantic VG was, and he assumed that VG was the friend's father.  When the coach realized that VG was actually a student, he got VG involved in organized football for the first time.  Before that, all VG wanted to do was lift weights/be a body builder, which is understandable, given his genetics.  I think that reluctance to be a full-on football nut has colored VG's playing days; he was a beast whenever he wanted to be (I believe he is the owner of the only collegiate sack ever given up by No. 1 overall pick Jake Long), but he took many plays off.  Hopefully he finds success in other areas of life.

OSUBias's picture

The knock on Gholston was always that he was hot and cold, didn't give it his all every play (even while he was at OSU, he randomly disappeared for quarters and even entire games). That's the polar opposite of how Simon is universally described. Anyone who busts his ass like Simon does, with his level of natural talent and strength, will be a decent NFL'er. IMO

7 yards and a cloud of dust is a beautiful thing

Squirrel Master's picture

I am sorry. Gholston was great but he was underproductive for the talent he had. You can see a difference in the way that each player plays. Simon is much more consistant and as you say, he has been getting his with less talent around him. If the defense was up to par last year, then Simon would have probably doubled his stats. Gholston was known for taking plays off and he would get his numbers in bunches and then disappear. I thought he was highly overrated and was picked way too high even though I did think he was going to be more than what he turned out to be.
Simon might not fit the prototype but his work ethic is easily there on and off the field. Not to mention he is a leader that Gholston never was. Laurinitis was the leader of that defense. Simon is the leader of this defense and does it with example.
Big difference IMO. I would take him 10-25 in the first round easily!

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

wiikidd1's picture

Gholston spent 4 years in college not 3 he red shirted

BTBuckeye's picture

Gholston didn't start playing football until his junior year in HS or something like that. He should have stayed at OSU another year (Same for Thadeous Gibson) b/c both of their Football IQ's were low. Such a shame, both were two of my favorite players the last couple years (sanzenbacher #1)

ARMYBUCK's picture

I think everyone has said it right.  You just cant measure a players heart and if you could you could see that Simons appears to be 5x that of Ghoston.  Which, with the talent they both display, makes Simon 5x more likely to make it big in the NFL.  I really cant see Simon failing at anything he puts his mind to.  Vernon either, for that matter.  I really like VG but I dont think as people they are that comparable.

Denny's picture

Yeah, but Gholston trucked Jake Long, so there's that.


pcon258's picture

I really hope simon does well in the nfl, (although next year is both more important and more pressing). Seems to be a great guy, humble, hard-working, etc. Also, he must be extremely intelligent as well. excercise science is damn near impossible to get into; they take like 36 kids every year; I was a pretty smart kid in high school, but theres no way I could get into that program. This guy is an awesome all around person, although I'd still be terrified to meet him in an alley

NYC Buckeye's picture

I read this article, and immediately couldn't wait to enlighten all my fellow buckeyes on all the intangibles, heart/desire and leadership qualities that distinguish Simon from Ghloston, (who as a new yorker, I told all my jet fan buddies they wasted a pick), however an hour late, it appears I everyone one of you has already covered...  good work boys!  hah..

TheHumbleBuckeye's picture

I think part of the problem is that they tried to move Vernon to a 3-4 OLB position instead of his more instinctive 4-3 DE position, which is easier to learn and requires slightly less "football smarts". I'm surprised people gave up on him so easily. If nothing else, I'm sure he could have been effective as a third-down pass rusher. In the end though, no one - and I mean NO ONE - thought he would be as big of a bust as he has become. There were questions about his motor, but he manhandled Jake Long for crying outloud, perhaps the 2nd best left tackle in the game next to Joe Thomas (if not the best).
But whatever. Vernon terrorized Chad Henne and absolutely leveled him for his 3rd sack in the 2007 Game, so he'll always be alright in my book. Everything else he does or doesn't do on Sundays is irrelevant to me.

Jeff Beck's picture

I was hoping someone would link to this. 

Denny's picture



scUM's picture

Brings back memories...

nickma71's picture

Jake Long also did 37 reps. Somebody in the last few years did 42. Can't remember who. Gholston's problem is the Jets when they didn't put him on the line where he needed to be.

Squirrel Master's picture

Gholston was definitely used incorrectly but I also believe he was taken with too high expectations. He was not a top 10 pick and I don't really think Simon is either but I do think Simon is a 1st rounder. If he fell to the 3-4 rounds like people are saying, that would be a straight steal. Just with his leadership he will change a defense alot like Vrabel who was also underrated.

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

wjpalumbo's picture

If you listed the OSU Buckeyes that played with the most passion and heart Simon would definitely be in the top 5.  The guy's motor never stops!



GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

love the backgroud..... Mike Hart.... lulz

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

Larryp713's picture

I certainly agree with those that point out VG's lack of consistency, and Simon's insanely high motor. Simon would be more comparable to JJ Watt, in my opinion.
But Vernon was not given a fair shake with the Jets. He would have had a much better chance in another system, such as Houston, Detroit, or Pittsburgh. I think playing for Rex Ryan put more pressure on him than he was ready for. Can you imagine how good he could have been with a year under Vrabel? It might have made a big difference. I think John Simon will be much better tested and suited for the NFL, and I hope he gets a good look (hopefully from the Browns!)