Finding the right fit for your college football program isn't just about what happens on the field, but off it as well. Today, Ohio State added a key piece. How will that commitment impact the Buckeyes?
Ohio State earned the commitment of four-star New Jersey linebacker Cody Simon, who is rated as the No. 10 outside linebacker in the 2020 class. Simon chose the Buckeyes over Nebraska and Penn State and is the brother of Notre Dame linebacker Shayne Simon.
This is how his commitment affects Ohio State’s 2020 recruiting class.
On The Field
Cody Simon brings a pure linebacker to Ohio State’s class, and he’s an athletic one too. Simon is part of the growing group of athletes nationwide that can play both linebacker and wide receiver. While he didn’t take many snaps at the receiver position for St. Peters Prep in 2018, he showed speed on a short screen pass that he took for a score.
That kind of speed – clocked at 4.62 in the 40-yard dash in April – is crucial for an outside linebacker that can cover the wide side of the field, and Simon can certainly be that type of linebacker. While standing at 6-foot-1, 217 pounds, he might be a little undersized for a Big Ten linebacker, and it’s unknown how the necessary additional weight would affect his speed. The athleticism, though, certainly makes him highly sought after.
Simon has a very quick first step and crashes the gaps quickly. He ran a 4.28-second shuttle in April at The Opening Regionals, meaning his change of direction is fast too. There’s a reason he recorded 13.5 tackles for loss as a junior. He gets into the backfield and is strong enough to finish the tackles on escaping running backs.
His monster junior season ended with 89 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, an interception and four pass deflections.
Another number that stands out is his vertical jump of 39 inches. Simon has the athleticism to also be an option at the bullet position, though Ohio State is focusing on him as a linebacker for now.
In The Class
Simon is one of just a couple true linebackers Ohio State has been honing in on recently, so earning a commitment from not only one of those linebackers, but a linebacker of his quality is significant.
While introducing the new bullet position, the definition of what a linebacker is and what that means within the Ohio State defense becomes more opaque. The ground that separates what a large safety or a small linebacker is considered has finally been defined, but whether that affects how effectively Ohio State can recruit linebackers is yet to be seen.
So far, the bullet position has only claimed former safeties in Columbus, but prospects like 2020 linebacker Kourt Williams are being recruited solely for the bullet position. While the linebacker room is fairly crowded at the moment and one spot for those linebackers to earn playing time in has been subtracted, it’s important that Ohio State continues to add one or two pure linebackers for every recruiting class.
Off the Field
Simon has something to prove during his time in Columbus – he isn’t his brother. He has his own path in mind.
Shayne was the No. 90 overall recruit in the 2018 class and was classified as the No. 6 safety in the class, but Notre Dame moved him to linebacker. He also provided some advice to his little brother during Cody’s recruiting process.
“Really, what he told me was to just have fun,” Cody told Irish Sports Daily. “Don’t think about him when I’m doing my recruitment. ‘Just think about yourself, what you need and what you want to do.’ Don’t make a decision because of him, and I really try to do that with my process.”
Simon heeded that advice. Notre Dame wasn’t even in his final three schools. His commitment came down to Nebraska, Penn State and Ohio State.
Having his brother at another top program in the country, though, can’t hurt what Simon does at the collegiate level, especially when their positions are so fluid between safety and linebacker. If Cody’s future is anything that Shayne’s looks like it could be, the Buckeyes have added quite a player and person to their 2020 class.