January 1, 1999 - by
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FSU’s Simon Goes From Operating Table to All-America


His persistance has paid off big this season.

December 31, 1998

By BILL KACZOR

Associated Press Writer

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) – Florida State defensive lineman Corey Simon has
overcome
five trips to the operating table plus other assorted injuries in the past
three years to become an All-American as a part-time starter.

Simon, in his first injury-free year since joining the Seminoles in 1995,
was third on the team with 65 tackles – the most for an interior lineman – and
led Florida State with 16 tackles resulting in a loss of yardage.

The 6-4, 275-pound junior also won the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Brian
Piccolo Award, named for the courageous Wake Forest and Chicago Bears running
back who died of cancer, for overcoming his injuries.

“Here’s a guy that’s the epitome of persistence,” Florida State defensive
coordinator Mickey Andrews said Thursday. “He’s accepted his misfortune, and
rather than let that be a dead end street, it was just kind of a detour.”

Simon’s next destination may be a national championship if the
second-ranked
Seminoles (11-1) can defeat No. 1 Tennessee (12-0) in the Fiesta Bowl on
Monday.

Since high school in Pompano Beach, Fla., he has undergone two surgical
procedures to each shoulder and one to his left knee. He also has suffered a
cervical neck sprain and a sprain of his left medial collateral ligament.

He had to sit out his first year because he had transferred from Georgia
although he never enrolled there, but he would have had to miss most of the
season anyway to recover from his first shoulder surgery.

Simon played in three of the first five games in 1996 before his season
ended with more shoulder surgery. He also missed several games in 1997 as well
as the past three spring practices.

“Coming in and missing those first couple of years it was a little
frustrating,” Simon said. “My focus had to change.”

He credits his religious devotion. He began focusing on his faith
during his
last year in high school and about nine months ago became “a disciple of
Christ.”

Simon said former Florida State players Andre Wadsworth, now with the
Arizona Cardinals, and Peter Boulware, who plays for the Baltimore Ravens,
both
“good, strong Christian men,” were his role models.

“I realized it was going to take a lot of patience and humility,” Simon
said. “I was able to really focus on what I needed to do spiritually as well
as on the football field.”

Simon, however, said he will not follow Boulware and Wadsworth to the NFL
next year but will return to Florida State for his senior season.

He has played in all 12 games this season at nose guard and defensive
tackle, splitting starts with Larry Smith and Jerry Johnson. All three,
however, got about equal playing time as Florida State substitutes early and
often to wear down opposing offenses.

Smith had been slated to start at nose guard ahead of Simon in the Fiesta
Bowl, but he is out after spraining the medial collateral ligament in his
right
knee at practice Tuesday.

Simon’s selection to the Associated Press All-America team was somewhat
surprising because he was not a full-time starter.

“It speaks a lot for this team. It speaks a lot for the coaching staff
and
this program to rotate guys in there,” Simon said. “Coach Andrews says
regardless if you are the first, second or third team, when you step on that
field you’re a first teamer and you have to play like it.”

Andrews said Simon stood out because of his great speed and vision.

“He has a way of finding the football and making plays,” Andrews said. “A
lot of attention is focused on guys that make plays.”

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