July 7, 2013

The Replacements: John Simon

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The start of fall camp is nearly a month away, but the Ohio State football team is already focused on putting together its second consecutive undefeated season. To do that, however, the Buckeyes will be forced to replace some key contributors to their 2012 squad that accumulated a perfect 12-0 record.

In the coming weeks, we'll take a look at the voids that OSU will try to fill, and the candidates who will attempt to do so. Today, we continue with the Buckeyes' strongside defensive end position.

What they're replacing

There may not be a bigger void on the Ohio State defense this season than the one that's being left by John Simon, the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Playing in 11 games last season, the Ohio State captain recorded a league-high nine sacks, in addition to recording 45 sacks, 14.5 of which came for a loss.

A fourth round pick by the Baltimore Ravens in April's NFL Draft, Simon was not only one of the Buckeyes' top players, but the "heart and soul" of last year's undefeated squad. Replacing his production may be possible, but head coach Urban Meyer has made it clear that leaders like him come few and far between.

The frontrunner

Much like Noah Spence has locked up the weakside defensive end position on the OSU defense, Adolphus Washington solidified his status as a starter with an impressive spring showing. The sophomore recorded four sacks in the Buckeyes' spring game, and has proven to be a dominant force while playing opposite Spence.

The Cincinnati, Ohio native spent his freshman season as Ohio State's backup defensive tackle, recording nine tackles and three sacks. His versatility is reminiscent of Simon's, which bodes well for Washington as he heads into his first season as a starter.

The X-factor

Although Washington has locked up the starting spot, the Buckeyes' will try to rotate more on the defensive line in 2013, although whether do or not will depend on what kind of depth they develop. Steve Miller will likely begin the season as Washington's primary backup, although for the second consecutive offseason, he'll be attempting to prove himself as a contributor to Meyer.

Already a junior, Miller has only appeared in nine games in his two-year Ohio State career, recording just four tackles and one sack. The opportunity to start for the Buckeyes may have passed him by, but he'll still be counted on to provide the depth that the OSU coaches are looking for.

Other candidates:
J.T. Moore, Joey Bosa, Michael Bennett, Billy Price.


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