Corey Simon, DT, 1995-1999
Inducted into the Florida State University Hall of Fame in 2010
Corey Simon's career is impressive enough, but he would have made the list just for the top line of his collegiate resume. Corey Simon was the key for the defense on the only wire-to-wire National Championship team in the BCS era.
Bam. Done. See you tomorrow...
In all seriousness though, it's quite possible to argue that Simon is the best defensive tackle to have ever come through Florida State. He was a force in the middle of the Seminole defensive line for two years, eventually earning consideration as the top defensive tackle in the entire country.
From his spot in the middle of the Florida State defensive line he wasn't charged with bringing the pass rush– though he did notch 11 career sacks, including nine in his final two seasons. Rather, Simon was charged with occupying space, taking up blockers and eating the ball-carrier alive on the other side of the line of scrimmage.
He literally made his living that way.
By the time Simon was done at Florida State he had collected 193 tackles from his spot in the middle of the line– including tying Ron Simmons' school record with 44 tackles for loss.
After arriving in Tallahassee and taking a redshirt year in 1995, Simon battled injuries until his junior season when he absolutely exploded on to the scene. In 1998 he notched 65 tackles including 16 for loss and five sacks while earning first team AP All-American status and the ACC's Brian Piccolo award.
The following season on FSU's 1999 National Championship team Simon pulled down 84 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and four sacks. Simon finished as a finalist for the Lombardia and Outland trophies in 1999 and was named to nine All-American teams including earning consensus NCAA All-American honors.
The NFL was more than a little interested following his senior. Simon was drafted in the 2000 NFL Draft in the first round, sixth overall, by the Philadelphia Eagles and went on to star for them before injury issues resurfaced and shortened his career.
On his way to earning All-Rookie team honors in 2000 Simon broke into the league with 52 tackles and 9.5 sacks in his first year in the NFL. Simon played with the Eagles until 2005, then he signed with the Colts. Two injury plagued seasons in Indy and an injury-shortened year in Tennessee followed before Simon was ultimately forced to hang up the cleats. He finished his NFL career with 194 tackles and 32 sacks.
As far as Florida State University goes, Simon's legacy in Garnet and Gold is hard to argue. Defensive tackle, like several other positions, is easy to overlook if you're not paying attention. The snap occurs and most fans' eyes follow the ball, it's natural. Do yourself a favor though and watch the play in the trenches a few times a game next Fall.
Despite not pulling down the same stats as other players, good interior defensive linemen take a defense from solid to elite. If you follow FSU closely today, you've probably heard Jimbo Fisher say that to be elite in college football you have to have a bunch of big athletic guys up front.
Corey Simon fit that description perfectly.
On that 1999 team, even on the plays where he wasn't bringing the pressure or bringing down the ballcarrier, he is making as big of an impact as anyone on that field.
Guys like Jamal Reynolds (who lead the team in sacks) or Tommy Polley (who lead the team in tackles) were able to make a lot of those plays thanks to the role Simon was asked to play. Go back and pop in the highlights of that team, then watch how many sacks came as a result of Simon taking on a double or triple team (and still pushing them backwards). Go back and watch how many times on that defense somebody else was in a position to make a tackle because Simon didn't just play his gap assignment but blew it up and caused the run play to break down.
There's a reason Corey Simon went sixth overall following that season. It's the same reason he's one of the greatest Seminoles of all time.
He was that good.
Join us tomorrow when we reveal number 18 on the FSU All-Time Countdown...
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