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Though he started for the Buckeyes for much of the 2021 season, Buckeye fans have only seen glimmers of senior linebacker Cody Simon’s full potential.
That’s because for most of that 2021 season, he played with a torn labrum. He then spent most of the 2022 season recovering from shoulder surgery to repair it.
Even with a shoulder injury, Simon was a force to be reckoned with — he ended the 2021 regular season as the Buckeyes’ second-leading tackler. But the injury finally caught up with him, forcing him to watch from the sidelines as the Buckeyes beat Utah in the Rose Bowl.
Now, Simon is a new man, and we’ll get to see what he can really do.
Though Simon likely won’t have the starting job (that is expected to go to star LB Tommy Eichenberg, who is back at full strength himself after multiple hand injuries last season), defensive coordinator Jim Knowles has expressed a desire to rotate more linebackers in throughout the season.
After a good spring with extra reps (with Eichenberg still recovering on the sideline), Simon’s experience could make him the first to rotate in off the bench.
As a reliable player who can rotate in, Simon has the ability to help keep the linebacker corps fresh. By adding depth to the position group, it relieves the starters of some of the physical strain and keeps the defense in top shape.
He also has experience at both the Will and Mike linebacker positions, which makes him a valuable asset as Knowles looks to divide up the playing time.
Now, it’s expected that second-year linebacker C.J. Hicks — a former top-10 prospect—will also see his share of playing time, particularly after starting in place of Steele Chambers in an impressive Spring Game performance.
But even if the number of reps adjusts with Hicks’ presence, Simon will surely see a decent amount of time on the field. And it’s not the number of reps—it’s what you do with them.
With Simon’s intelligence on the field, leadership off the field, and technical skills at the position, the Buckeyes are in good hands. Simon’s passion for the game and for pushing himself cannot be understated, and it brings intangible value to a linebacker corps that is already solid.
With more experience and the maturity that a few years can bring, the Cody Simon you’ll see in the fall won’t be the one you’ve seen before. This is a new man getting ready to shine.