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senior day 2021

After season-ending injury, Simon adjusts to new role for Irish

| Friday, November 19, 2021

The Notre Dame fight song is an all-time classic. But when Shayne Simon played his first game for the Irish, he was already well familiar with the tune. 

“I went to Catholic high school and we actually played the fight song running out of our tunnel in high school,” Simon recalled, noting the combination of athletics, academics, and Catholicism for being major factors in his decision to enroll at Notre Dame. 

It hasn’t been the final season that Simon, a senior linebacker, anticipated, but the West Orange, New Jersey product is making the best of an unfortunate situation. Simon tore his labrum in the season opener, relegating him to an off-field leadership role. But Simon has done his best to embrace a new role, even if it wasn’t the one he imagined when he returned to a loaded Notre Dame linebacker room. 

“Just doing whatever the team needs to prepare for the next week. Scout team running back, scout team special teams – just whatever they need,” Simon said.

ND Athletics
Senior linebacker Shayne Simon prepares to rush the punter in Notre Dame’s 41-38 overtime victory on the road against Florida State on Sep. 5

Simon entered the year listed second on the depth chart at weak side linebacker, figuring to get a large number of snaps. Simon’s role had gradually increased over his first three years in South Bend. He played nine games as a freshman and ten as a sophomore. However, his breakout campaign came in the 2020 season. Simon started eight games at linebacker for the Irish, developing into a key playmaker. 

Identifying Simon’s signature performance for the blue and gold is not a difficult task — he shined in the biggest regular-season game of his career. With Notre Dame hosting No. 1 Clemson, Simon tied his career-high with four tackles, one of those for loss and broke up a pair of passes. His presence was notable, particularly crashing in as a run defender and shutting down Clemson’s ground game. The Irish ultimately won that game 47-40 in double overtime, resulting in the fans storming the field. Simon fondly remembers the game, and not only for his outstanding individual effort. 

“Definitely the Clemson game — both on the field as a player and after the game as a team,” Simon said regarding his favorite football memory. “That was the best memory of college for sure.”

While Simon’s best memories certainly revolve around the football field, he’s also taken advantage of some of the opportunities provided to Notre Dame athletes. One such opportunity involves random placement in a dorm with non-athletes as a freshman. For some, this is a placeholder until they can transfer dorms to room with teammates. But for Simon, his roots at O’Neill Family Hall are not forgotten. 

“I room with my roommates from freshman year,” Simon said, “I still hang out with them — the dorm family is really different than any other school. You don’t get to experience that as an athlete at any other school.”

Simon will continue to help the Irish in any way he can as Notre Dame seeks a College Football Playoff berth. After the season, he’ll shift his focus to his post-graduation plans. A chemical engineering major, Simon hopes to get involved in the oil and gas industry.

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About Aidan Thomas

A junior marketing and ACMS major at Notre Dame, I've countered the success I've enjoyed as a New England sports fan with the painful existence of a Notre Dame football fan.

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