MOBILE, Ala. -- As a defensive lineman, John Simon was a four-year letterman who earned second-team All-American honors during his senior season at Ohio State.
Now, he finds himself trying to make his mark at outside linebacker as he prepares for the 2013 Senior Bowl, which will be played at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Saturday.
At 6-foot-2, 263 pounds, Simon worked at both weak side and strong side linebacker during the North team’s first practice of the week on Monday.
“Going to outside linebacker is a challenge for me,” Simon said following Monday’s practice. “I’m looking forward to it. I’ve done a lot of similar (things) in the past, but there’s some differences in the coverages. I’m working on that every day and trying to improve. They’ve got me as a 'Sam' linebacker right now. There’s still some times where I’m on the ball, attacking tight ends, but then, on third down, there’s some droppage that I’m going to have to continue to work on.
“You’ve just got to be mentally and physically prepared, and just stay focused, day-in and day-out. It’s a big challenge. A lot of us here are doing that, moving around to different positions, and it makes you probably a better prospect to NFL scouts if you have more capabilities.”
Simon started 37 of the 50 games he played in at Ohio State. During that time, he registered 154 total tackles, including 81 solo stops, 43 tackles for loss and 20.5 quarterback sacks. He also broke up 10 passes, including a career-high four as a senior, despite missing the season finale against Michigan due to injury.
In a win over Nebraska this past fall, Simon equaled an Ohio State record with five tackles for loss, including two sacks, and also forced a fumble against the Cornhuskers. He was named Big Ten Conference Player of the Week and National Defensive Player of the Week by three organizations after the Nebraska game.
With performances like the one against Nebraska, Simon feels his best attribute is his “non-stop motor.”
“I think that’s one of the most important things in a football player and if you can play through the whistle, game-in, game-out, day-in, day-out, you can’t beat that,” Simon said.
Simon’s ability to make the adjustment to outside linebacker, as well as using his non-stop motor will get its first test against NFL-type competition this week at the Senior Bowl. It is an opportunity Simon has embraced.
“It’s great going up against such great competition out here,” Simon said. “I know everyone’s excited to get after it and compete against one another. It was a little sloppy, first and foremost, for the whole team, but we’re going to get together throughout the week and fix everything up and compete against the South.
“It’s completely different from regular-season football because you don’t know the guys, so you don’t have a comfort zone with them, and you don’t have that ability level to read each others’ minds. You have to build that as fast as possible, and hopefully, we have that by the end of the week.”