Daniel Chi / Asst. photo editor
John Simon’s legacy might be finally cemented.
After helping guide Ohio State to a perfect 12-0 season, the senior defensive lineman and captain was named the Big Ten’s Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year Tuesday.
“It means a lot to win this award,” Simon said in a released statement. “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.”
Simon, who earned the conference’s Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year honor Monday, was also named a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection.
But OSU first-year coach Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes were forced to finish the 2012 campaign against Michigan without Simon – a player Meyer called the “heart and soul” of the team.
“I think everyone knows how highly I think of John Simon,” Meyer said in a released statement.
“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.”
While OSU topped the Wolverines, 26-21 to seal its first undefeated season since 2002, Simon, who missed the contest with a knee injury, seemed to struggle with missing his final game as a Buckeye.
“It was extremely tough to have to stay on the sidelines that last game and to watch your family go out there and play,” he 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, however, likely had a large role in putting his teammates in such a position.
The senior led the conference with nine sacks this season and notched 44 total tackles-14.5 of which were tackles-for-loss.
Simon made his last start as a Buckeye against Wisconsin on Nov. 17. He took down Badgers redshirt senior quarterback Curt Phillips four times to tie the program’s single-game record for sacks.