Cody Cousino / Photo editor
Ohio State football won its first Big Ten game of the year Saturday when it upset then-No. 16 Illinois, 17-7. In the wake of victory, two OSU players who played significant roles in the contest earned individual honors.
Junior defensive tackle John Simon earned several awards for his performance against the Fighting Illini, including Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week.
Simon notched a career-high eight tackles in the game, including four tackles for a loss amounting to -16 yards for Illinois’ offense. Simon also sacked Illini sophomore quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, who averages 57 rushing yards per game, twice in the game.
Defensive coordinator Jim Heacock called Simon a “warrior” and a disruptive force after the Buckeyes’ win against Illinois.
“We moved (Simon) around a little bit,” Heacock said. “He gives us a little speed in there. He just goes as hard as he can go. He’s just unbelievable.”
Simon’s performance also earned him the Lott IMPACT Player of the Week Award.
Simon leads the 2011 team in sacks and tackles for loss, with 3.0 and 7.5, respectively. Simon is also sixth on OSU’s roster with 26 tackles.
Not to be outdone, junior tight end Jake Stoneburner was one of 25 tight ends named to the John Mackey Award midseason watch list.
Stoneburner, who caught freshman quarterback Braxton Miller’s only completed pass against Illinois, went for 17 yards and a touchdown to put the Buckeyes up, 17-0, early in the fourth quarter.
“(Miller) made a great throw, so I have to credit him for that,” Stoneburner said after Saturday’s win. “It feels great. I’m just happy we won. We took a timeout (before the play) and we were able to switch the route around and it worked out pretty well.”
With the score, Stoneburner tallied his sixth touchdown of the year and the eighth of his OSU career, moving him into a three-way tie in program history for touchdowns by a tight end.
John Lumpkin, who played at OSU from 1996–1998, still holds the school record with 10 touchdowns.
Stoneburner currently leads the team with 12 receptions and six touchdowns.
Stoneburner was named National Tight End of the Week by the Nassau County Sports Commission after grabbing three touchdown passes against the Akron Zips on Sept. 3.
The Mackey Award, presented annually to the nation’s best tight end, will be announced Dec. 8.
OSU (4-3, 1-2) returns to game action Oct. 29 at Ohio Stadium against No. 4 Wisconsin (6-0, 2-0). Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.