Cody Cousino / Photo editor
Uncertainty has surrounded many positions through Ohio State’s first three games.
While the quarterback spot has received most of the attention, one of the few models of consistency for the Buckeyes this year has been No. 54.
John Simon, a junior defensive lineman, has come up big for the Buckeyes in crucial situations.
After being carted off the field in the second half as Toledo threatened to become the first Ohio school to beat the Buckeyes since 1921, Simon returned to the field to sack Rockets’ quarterback Austin Dantin on third-and-nine, forcing a Toledo punt with less than six minutes remaining.
“The thing about John is, you know he’s going to be there, working every single day to get better at what he does,” OSU coach Luke Fickell said.
Simon understands that his role amongst his younger teammates is important. With senior defensive lineman Nathan Williams missing last week’s game at Miami, Simon knew he had turn his leadership role up a notch.
“I had to step in to that (leadership) role, losing Nate (Williams),” Simon said on Tuesday. “I’m doing my best. Anything I can do to help the team, I’m just trying to do my job out there. But it’s really a team sport, so what I’m doing doesn’t matter if we’re not getting the win.”
Simon’s leadership role will have to continue this week, as OSU plans to start five underclassmen on defense, two of whom will be playing alongside Simon on the defensive line, this Saturday.
Sophomore Johnathan Hankins is set to start at right tackle, while redshirt freshman J.T. Moore and freshman Steve Miller are expected to split time at the defensive end position.
As a result of so many young names and different personnel schemes on defense, Simon has been asked to do more than usual on the field this season.
“We’ve moved (Simon) around a lot, asked him to do a lot of different things,” Fickell said. “He’s going to get better at everything he does. He’s a great example for the other guys on the team.”
Simon has as much faith in his young teammates as his coach does in him.
“Seeing guys go out there and compete is what it’s all about,” Simon said. “I think we have a very competitive defense, some aggressive guys, and I think it’s going to pay off for us.”