Simon Says Dominate

By Kyle Rowland on August 1, 2012 at 10:00a
John Simon's lunch. 

By now the story has been repeated countless times. After strength coach Mickey Marotti worked Ohio State’s entire roster to the brink and Urban Meyer ran his first spring practice, the head coach described his defensive stalwart as “Tebowish.”

The high marks have continued to pour in over the summer from Meyer. It is clear how much stock he puts in his senior leader, John Simon, and how critical Simon’s presence on the field and in the locker room is to Ohio State’s success.

At the Big Ten’s annual media days in Chicago last week, Meyer altered his statement.

“I should say Tebow is Simonish out of respect. Just incredible character, incredible,” he said of Simon. “He’s got a job with me anytime he wants. I hope he goes and plays football for 20 years, and then when he's done, I’m hiring him.”

All the talk is humbling to Simon, who, despite his hulking figure, is a quiet, reserved young adult from blue collar Youngstown. It’s no surprise that his work ethic has reached legendary status when his rust-belt roots are discovered.

Workouts – possibly even those of the Marotti variety – come easy for Simon, considering he began lifting weights in fourth grade at the urging of his father. Compare that with fellow defender Etienne Sabino, a senior linebacker, who didn’t begin weightlifting until he was a junior in high school – seven years after Simon.

Simon anchors a defensive line that will be among the Big Ten and nation’s best. And if Ohio State is to reach the lofty expectations surrounding the 2012 season, the line will have to perform up to the standards set by Buckeye defenses of the past, something that was lacking one year ago.

“We’re kind of banking on it,” Meyer said of the defensive line setting the tone. “That’s where you start. The spread offense and shovel passes are cool, but at the end of the day, do you have one of the best defensive lines? If so, you have a chance to have one of the better teams in our conference. I like our guys. I don’t love them yet, but I like them. I love the guy who is here (Simon).”

John Simon's mancave. 

Simon doesn’t have the polarization of Tebow and he doesn’t elicit Heisman hype, but Simon does evoke the same competitive fire in himself and his teammates. He sets the bar in the weight room, on the practice field, in the locker room and on game day.

Meyer believes elite players of Tebow and Simon’s stature are wired differently, calling them “freaks” and “bizarre” in regards to their self-discipline, self-respect and work ethic. The two persuaders are 1 and 1A, according to Meyer, in terms of hardest workers. And they also have an aura of optimism that becomes infectious.

It’s that quality – affecting teammates positively – that Meyer appreciates more than any other. Once the floodgates open, motivation swells through the locker room like an out on control force.

"It's called harnessing the power of the elite," Meyer told a group of Ohio high school coaches this spring. "Because John Simon can go in there every day and lift with Mickey Marotti, and that serves no purpose. And that's what he used to do here, come in every day and lift with the strength coach. He's going to lift anyway.”

Meyer has since added a wrinkle to the team rules, or rather Simon’s own personal set of instructions: he cannot enter the Woody Hayes Athletic Center alone.

“For a while there, (Marotti) would say, ‘Simon is in at 6 a.m,’” Meyer said. “OK, let’s have Simon bring two or three guys who wouldn’t come in, and he’s not allowed to come in with Zach (Boren) because he and Zach are the same type of guy. So he brought in Curtis Grant, Ryan Shazier and Noah Spence. So here’s a true freshman (Spence) who’s learning from the best. Now he’s giving something back to the team. He brings in guys that are not necessarily the most motivated guys. He tries to teach them a work ethic.”

John Simon's underrstudy. 

The teacher and pupils don’t just toil during the work week, either. They are also present on the weekend. Simon may have to rouse them in the morning. After all, this is someone who awakes willingly at 4:30 a.m. on a near daily basis. But once the trio of underclassmen gets into the weight room, determination takes over.

“They do a great job,” Simon said. “I'm looking forward to what they do in the season."

Most people, whether it’s running or lifting, tolerate working out but never fully embrace it. Simon is not most people.

"If you're going into workouts and not having a good time, you're not reaching your full potential of what you can achieve," he said. "I'm not saying they're not hard, but the physical pain and the mental pain you have to go through to endure those workouts is what makes it fun."

Clearly Simon has a different idea of fun than most people. In Ohio, riding rollercoasters at Cedar Point, jet skiing at Lake Erie and other forms of outdoor recreation are considered summer fun. It’s reached a point where Meyer doesn’t even ask his strength coaches for reports on Simon. The response has become like the chorus of an annoying song played over and over on the radio – it never changes. 

“He’s a nut job,” Meyer said. “He told me his dad texts him every morning and says, ‘great arm workout.’ So I see where he gets it now. His dad’s out of his mind like he is. Great family.”

He leaves his teammates flabbergasted, as well, even Boren, who also uses the facility as a living room. 

"It's hard because your arms are dead,” he said of working out with Simon. “John will give out a big yell, call us some names and pull out the 80s and start rubbing it in our face.”

In the fall, quarterbacks will play the part of protagonist. Simon, as always, will have the starring role.


Comments Show All Comments

harp35's picture

Awesome read, made me laugh out loud and I could only hope one of my kids be described as Simonish.

osu07asu10's picture

John Simon is the reason why Waldo is hiding.

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

bassplayer7770's picture

I like the rule that Simon has to bring others with him.  Great work there, Coach.

hodge's picture

I get the feeling that John Simon is going to be like Jayne Cobb in Firefly.  Brutal, yet somewhow lovable--but most specifically, there's one episode where the team goes back to a land Jayne's long since departed (where he unsuccessfully tried to steal a magistrate's cash) to find that he's become a folk hero to the people, complete with a life-sized statue and songs in his honor.
I see this same thing happening to John Simon, not someone who really wants or hogs the spotlight, yet is canonized nonetheless.  

NC_Buckeye's picture

I grok Firefly. Show deserved a second season.

hodge's picture

Amen.  That show was so good.

NC_Buckeye's picture

Adam Baldwin on Jayne Cobb.
"Sex. Muscles. Thuggery. Humour. Jayne."

LadyBuck's picture

Agreed. The fact that there was no second season is practically criminal, considering what's on TV.

shadedred's picture

Hell, I'll kill a man in a fair fight... or if I think he's gonna start a fair fight, or if he bothers me, or if there's a woman, or if I'm gettin' paid - mostly only when I'm gettin' paid.
-Jayne Cobb

sir rickithda3rd's picture

not 2 long ago we had a debate if simon goes in the first round... although, i see why ppl say he wont, this article is why i say he will... when the draft comes around coaches are going to fall in love with this guy... o and he might break the bench press rep #s at the combine

mark may wins douchebag of the year... again

Kyle Rowland's picture

He's actually already one rep shy of the record, so, yeah, it will probably be broken. 

Rapping Bum's picture


Help is on the way.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture


The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Buckeyeneer's picture


"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

I like that one!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

RBuck's picture addition to all the accolades above, he wears flannels.

Long live the southend.

buckeyeEddie27's picture

Really looking forward to simon's first big play/hit.   Miami is in trouble.

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

Ethos's picture

We need to start making Simon facts.  (ala chuck norris)
John Simon has already been to Mars, that's why there is no sign of life there.

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

Crimson's picture

The first one (a few articles ago) made me laugh.  Please, don't do this on a regular basis.  It's like a bunch of 12 year olds with the Chuck Norris stuff.  Ugh . . .

740 BUCKEYE's picture

Once tried to name a street after John Simon but had to change it.....BECAUSE NOBODY CROSSES JOHN SIMON AND LIVES!!!
(Sorry Crimson, but had to throw that out there.)

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

Sharks have a week dedicated to John Simon....

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

klfeck's picture

John Simon is so scary, even his farts are afraid to make noise.



Proud parent of a Senior at The Ohio State University

klfeck's picture

John Simon is so scary even his own shaddow won't follow him.



Proud parent of a Senior at The Ohio State University

WC Buckeye's picture

John Simon is so scary he has to sneak up on a glass of water to get a drink.

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

DJ Byrnes's picture

God damnit Lenin, this fine article of yours was ruined by your usage of the phrase "mancave".

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

BigBuckeye3's picture

Im even more excited to see Noah Spence as his understudy..  All that we hear is this kid is ALREADY a beast.. Now, he has a senior with this kind of work ethic showing him how to get it done..  Look out for Noah Spence!!

-Because they wouldn't let me go for three..

HolyBuckeye1093's picture

Looks like the tree got in John Simon's way.

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

John Simon once cut down a Sequoia tree...with a butter knife.

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

BuckeyeEd's picture

I like him a whole lot better than Romney or Obama.....Simon for President......Long as he dont miss no Games.

klfeck's picture

John Simons guns are so big that the ATF requires him to hold an FFL license.



Proud parent of a Senior at The Ohio State University

Dougger's picture

"I'm not saying they're not hard, but the physical pain and the mental pain you have to go through to endure those workouts is what makes it fun."
Epic!!!!! Thanks for this read!
Aliens believe in John Simon

I like football

buckeyes33's picture

Great article Kyle. Seriously. Keep up the good work. 

cinserious's picture

'Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh! #&$$!@s ,try doing that with the 80's!

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

740 BUCKEYE's picture

More impressive guns, Simon or Vernon Gholston?

klfeck's picture

Ghoulston had much better arms, Simon is a much better player and will be at the next level too!!!



Proud parent of a Senior at The Ohio State University

740 BUCKEYE's picture

You could see the veins and definition in Ghoulston arms from the C deck!!
But fully agree that Simon is the better player and has the right state of mind for the position he plays.

Jbuckham94's picture

I'm not saying this wasn't a great article, but I think the most important thing we can take from this is that Urban Meyer will coach OSU for 20 years. Write it down folks.

Class of 2016. Go Bucks!

Kyle Rowland's picture

Zero percent chance. 

Jbuckham94's picture

Yeah, if we can get 5-8 years out of him it will be great. My initial comment was meant to be in jest. Not sure how well I portrayed that. Oh well :)

Class of 2016. Go Bucks!

Kyle Rowland's picture

I thought it might be. Hard to tell on the Internet. My bad. 

Ethos's picture

i give a 90 percent chance he isn't here in 5 years.

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

ghalephoto's picture

10 Years and he rides off into the sunset.

klfeck's picture

He is young and ambitious, I say he tries to become the next "woody" at OSU and leave an indelible mark on the University and the state. Let's hope!!!!



Proud parent of a Senior at The Ohio State University

jfunk's picture

Six seaons and a movie!

Scotch: It may be too early to drink it, yes; but people it is never to early to think about it.

Man of Scarlet and Gray's picture

I say he sticks around for 2 national titles then hands it over to fickell

 "I like to believe that my best hits border on felonious assault."
--Jack Tatum

Crimson's picture

Possible, but that would have to include Fickell going out and getting head coaching jobs elsewhere and earning head coach at OSU. 

OSUBias's picture

This is a completely useless discussion right now, but do we really think after last year that if Urban were picking a replacement from his current staff that he'd pick Fickell? I'd say at this point in time, even though he doesn't have the history at OSU, Withers is more qualified than Fickell. Don't get me wrong, I love Fickell a lot. Not as much as Vrabel does, but a lot. The man stepped up when nobody wanted to and led the team through what he knew was going to be a crappy time. But he just looked overwhelmed being the head guy. Game management, the press coverage, handling the staff, etc. I don't think he's ready.

7 yards and a cloud of dust is a beautiful thing

Poison nuts's picture

He may not have been ready last year - but he will be ready soon enough. Can't judge him forever based on that situation IMHO. I imagine Urban being done at OSU in 5-10 years & if Fickell were still there or even if not - he'd be ready to go by then for sure...

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

nickma71's picture

I hope he is a rushing linebacker for the Browns next year. What an addition that would be to a pretty good defense.

Lost nut in Michigan's picture

With all of the LB issue, I say move Simon to LB and bring in some freshmen talent. He will most likely play LB in the next level.

Lost Nut in Michigan

ghalephoto's picture

CBS and the there idiotic approach to kissing all SEC teams doesn't have J Simon on there 1st team or 2nd team preseason All-American list.  The Dennis "dick" Dodd effect is rubbing off on the other writers.  They simply hate OSU greatness.  They did have J Hankins on the list so congrats to him its deserving.  But to leave Mr. Simon off...joke!!