Ryan Shazier is a bad man. It was clear even as a true freshman when he tallied 57 tackles, the most by a true freshman since Andy Katzenmoyer’s 86 in 1996.
In 2012, Shazier continued his ascent, becoming the second leading tackler in the B1G and earning a media first team all conference selection.
Shazier’s 115 tackles in 2012 are an impressive number, but arguably more jaw-dropping is the way in which he goes about making those stops.
Simply put, Shazier wants to hurt ball-carriers. That’s not to say his tackles are dirty, it just means he flies around, throwing his body into a hit as fast as he possibly can.
I don’t envy opposing offenses before a game, as visions of this must keep them up ‘til the wee hours of the morning.
Shazier tallied a number of slobber knockers during the 2012 season, but none in my opinion were better than these.
With the score at 21-20 TTUN and the Wolverines facing a 4th and 3 near mid-field, Brady Hoke borrowed an assistant coach’s headset and told his staff they were going for it.
Denard Robinson would take the snap and race toward what looked to be an open hole. Unfortunately for Hoke and Co. Shazier took the opportunity to introduce himself to Denard.
Next we have Ameer Abdullah trying to find some daylight, then ending up with his cleats toward the sky. A tragic victim of a Shazier suplex
At number three here’s Illinois RB, Donovonn Young receiving the ball on a screen pass. The only problem being, Shazier had already eluded all of the blockers and was on a war-path for Young’s soul.
This next hit is one of the finest of the season. With a second and 2 from their own 17, Zach Maynard made the terrible decision to run East/West instead of North/South.
The slowly developing play allowed Shazier to do a few squats, spot a bro on the bench and then come at Maynard with the fury of 1,000 suns.
Bonus points if you catch Maynard trying to pop back up like it was no big deal, only to be betrayed by his body which was still recovering from the devastating blow.
A lot of people would put the Maynard hit at No. 1, but I chose this hit based solely on the fact that when I saw it live everyone in the room yelled “OOOOOHHHHH” then simultaneously checked their teeth to make sure they were still there.
What I’m saying is, the hit was so vicious we could feel it through the TV set.
With little regard for life and/or limb, Shazier catapulted his body full force into Wisconsin RB, Melvin Gordon.
The hit seemed to shake up Shazier more than Gordon, and luckily both parties were alright.
This smack is a prime example of the way Shazier plays the game: fast and reckless.
This Fall, Shazier will be the only returning starter among the defense’s front seven. Long led by the likes of John Simon and Nate Williams, No. 10 will need to take the reins as an example to follow in 2013.
However, if his play continues on the trajectory of the last two seasons, the title defensive leader will have to take a back-seat to defensive All-American.