Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 10/19/11

The Ohio State Buckeyes are having a very mediocre season. Their win at Illinois Saturday saved their season. It put them back over .500 and in the discussion for at least a minor bowl. Their offense is still terrible, but their defense has been very strong.

John Simon’s aggressive, relentless pursuit of the opposition is a big reason why. The junior defensive tackle from Youngstown, Ohio, is climbing up NFL scouts draft boards as this week he took home the Defensive Player of the Week Award from the Big Ten Conference.

Simon won national awards too: the Lott IMPACT Player of the Week and the College Football Performance Award’s National Defensive Lineman of the Week.

“The key for our defense this year is that we’re relentless, we’re going to fight to the ball, and flying to the football,” Simon says (pun intended) after the game in Champaign.

Simon led the Ohio State “Silver Bullet” defense with a career-high eight tackles, including a career-high four tackles-for-loss, in the team’s 17-7 road win over 16th-ranked and previously unbeaten Illinois. Simon’s TFLs included two quarterback sacks and totaled 16 yards in losses.

The total was one off the school record of five held by Andy Katzenmoyer (vs. Arizona State in 1996), Jayson Gwinn (vs. Indiana in 1993) and Judah Herman (vs. Iowa in 1991).

“The thing about John is you know he’s going to be there, working every single day to get better at what he does,” Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell said after the game.

Simon is guy doing everything this year; including dropping back into coverage on occasion, and his versatility will serve him well on the next level.

Simon and the Buckeyes limited the Illini to 27 points below their average and to just 285 total yards after entering averaging almost 450 yards per game. Illinois’s only score came on a 16-play drive that consumed nearly seven minutes off the clock midway through the fourth quarter. Ohio State’s “D” then closed out the game with a Travis Howard interception before holding Illinois on downs to stop its final drive.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site that generates millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

He’s appeared on live radio all across the world from Houston to New Zealand. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too

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