ASU football's Jordan Simone nominated for Burlsworth Trophy

Redshirt junior defensive back Jordan Simone celebrates with his teammate during a game against USC on Oct. 4, 2014. ASU won against USC 38-34. (Photo by Alexis Macklin) Redshirt junior defensive back Jordan Simone celebrates with his teammate during a game against USC on Oct. 4, 2014. ASU won against USC 38-34. (Photo by Alexis Macklin)

Redshirt junior safety Jordan Simone will step on the Reser Stadium turf Saturday far departed from the walk-on, scout team, transfer that he was merely two seasons ago.

As the Sun Devils travel to Oregon State to face the Beavers, Simone has not only solidified his role in the ASU secondary, but, like the team he plays for, he has attracted some national attention in the process.

Coach Todd Graham spoke highly of Simone’s rise through the defensive ranks during his time as a Sun Devil, agreeing that he has put in an All-Pac-12 worthy performance this season.

“I think he has played as good as good as we have had a safety play since I’ve been here,” Graham said. “He has played exceptional.”

Since his first career start for the Sun Devils against Weber State, Simone has posted increasingly impressive performances in nearly every game in which he has played this season. From his seven solo tackles and first career fumble recovery versus New Mexico, to claiming the award for “star of the game” at Colorado just one week later with 13 tackles (two of which were for loss) and more career firsts with an interception and forced fumble — Simone made his case early to become a permanent fixture in the Sun Devil defensive scheme.

The former walk-on wrangled in double-digit tackles in consecutive games (10 versus Washington, 13 versus Utah) before leading the team with nine wrap-ups in its landmark 55-31 win over Notre Dame.

“I think our coaches do a great job of getting us prepared every week; forgetting what happened the week before and keeping every win as just another win,” Simone said. “We weren’t too excited after the Notre Dame win — obviously we were excited — but it’s just another win and they were in our way so … now Oregon State is in our way.”

Along with his team being ranked No. 6 in the College Football Playoff rankings, Simone himself has been nominated for the 2014 Burlsworth Trophy, which is awarded to the most outstanding collegiate football player who began his career as a walk-on.

Simone was honored to be recognized for what he called a “special” award, thanking his strength and conditioning coaches, among others, for aiding him in his development as a Sun Devil. He's one of 55 nominees for the award, which narrows the list to three finalists before picking a winner. Last year's was Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis.

This is the third time in as many years that a Sun Devil has been nominated for the award. In 2012, wide receiver Kevin Ozier was the nominee and in 2013, it was defensive lineman Gannon Conway.

While the Burlsworth would be an honor for Simone, the redshirt junior was quick to set his sights on accomplishing much larger goals ahead.

“I set big goals for myself,” Simone said. “I expect to be the best safety in the country. If you don’t strive for the best then you aren’t pushing high enough.

“To be honest, I’m just thinking about another win ... If we keep winning, the awards will come with it.”

Additional notes

— Former ASU and NFL quarterback Jake Plummer visited practice on Thursday to work alongside Mike Norvell with the Sun Devil quarterbacks. Plummer led the 1997 Sun Devils to the Rose Bowl in his senior year at ASU and was later drafted to the Arizona Cardinals.

— Junior defensive tackle Jaxon Hood was absent at practice again, with no indication that he will return to play versus Oregon State. This would be his second consecutive game missed with personal issues.

 

Reach the reporter at csafran@asu.edu and follow him on Twitter @ChrisSafran

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