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Published: Sunday, 9/16/2012

Buckeyes' Simon shows leadership

BY DAVID BRIGGS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Ohio State's John Simon, left, attempts to bring down California's C.J. Anderson on a day where he played with an ailing shoulder. Ohio State's John Simon, left, attempts to bring down California's C.J. Anderson on a day where he played with an ailing shoulder.
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COLUMBUS -- Add another tale to the legend of John Simon.

The Ohio State senior defensive end began Saturday's game with a bum shoulder that coach Urban Meyer said would have laid up "most human beings" in the hospital. Simon instead played the entire game and had one of the Buckeyes' six sacks in a 35-28 victory.

Afterward, he broke into tears addressing his teammates.

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"Boy, he just lost it in the locker room as far as just opening up his soul for the team," Meyer said.

Simon downplayed the injury -- "I'm 100 percent," he said with a smile -- and Meyer said his All-Big Ten player has no ligament damage. But Simon practiced little last week, and coaches thought he might be a late scratch.

In truth, however, that was never an option.

"I felt like I had to be in this game," Simon said. "Everything we've gone through, the winter, spring, summer, all our workouts … to not be able to go out there with them, I don't think I would have been able to do it."

His message to his teammates: "I was excited to be out there. For the players to trust that I could go out there and perform my job and the coaches to give me that opportunity, I just told them it meant the world for me."

Meyer has heaped praise on Simon since arriving at OSU, calling him the hardest worker he has ever coached. Saturday's performance only cemented the affection.

"I've done this for a long time, man, and he's as good as …" Meyer said. "You mark that down. Can we put a jersey up there of something that says 'John Simon'? Because that's a grown man."

"If we have another child, I want to name him Urban John Simon Meyer," he added with a laugh. "That's how much I love that guy. I'm not ashamed to say I love him. He makes us all look in the mirror and say, 'Are we doing enough for our team?' "

California’s Isi Sofele is tackled by Ohio State’s Bradley Roby during the fourth quarter. The Buckeye defense struggled most of the day, surrendering 512 yards of offense to the Golden Bears, but they did have six sacks and an interception to clinch the victory. California’s Isi Sofele is tackled by Ohio State’s Bradley Roby during the fourth quarter. The Buckeye defense struggled most of the day, surrendering 512 yards of offense to the Golden Bears, but they did have six sacks and an interception to clinch the victory.
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HALL RETURNS: The Buckeyes' depleted backfield welcomed back a key reinforcement to help take the rushing burden off quarterback Braxton Miller.

Senior running back Jordan Hall rushed for 87 yards on 17 carries in his first game since tearing a tendon in his foot early in the summer.

Hall practiced Wednesday and Thursday, but admitted he felt "rusty."

"I think there were more yards there," Meyer said. "He could have come out of a few situations that he normally would. But I love Jordan Hall.

"He's given a lot for us and our staff. So we've got to give back."

Freshman Bri'onte Dunn and sophomore Rod Smith -- listed as the top two options earlier in the week -- did not carry the ball.

Miller, who out of necessity ran 27 times a week earlier, rushed for 75 yards on 12 carries Saturday.

EXTRA POINTS: Ohio State's 512 yards allowed were the most by an opponent in Ohio Stadium since Cincinnati piled up 525 in 1999. … Linebacker Ryan Shazier led OSU with 13 tackles and a sack. Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins added a career-high 10 stops. … OSU recognized its newest inductees to the Athletics Hall of Fame in a halftime ceremony, including former football stars Pete Cusick, Ray Griffin, and Mike Vrabel. The loudest ovation, however, was reserved for Bob Knight. A reserve on the Buckeyes' 1960 national championship basketball team before gaining fame as the firebrand coach who won 902 games, Knight called the honor "as special as anything that's ever been done on my behalf."



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