Wisconsin Notebook: Christian Bryant Lost for Season

By Kyle Rowland on September 29, 2013 at 3:36a
A broken ankle has ended Christian Bryant's season.

COLUMBUS – At Big Ten media days in July, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer spoke so much about leadership that he could have been mistaken for a traveling motivational speaker. On Saturday night, it became evident just how much he values leaders in the wake of the fourth-ranked Buckeyes’ 31-24 victory over No. 23 Wisconsin.

Told that senior safety Christian Bryant, a captain, would miss the remainder of the season with a broken ankle suffered on the penultimate defensive play of the game, Meyer became overcome with emotion, smacking the podium with full force. His voice cracked when he described the blow to the team.

“We lost our captain,” Meyer said. “Just tough news. That’s the hardest part of this whole job, to see that happen. My goodness. I just love that kid. That darn kid has done so much or our program, come so far. Incredible leadership skills, and he’s going to be even more valuable outside of football. I love that guy. Doggone it. Hard part of the game.”

Bryant was taken to the OSU Medical Center after the game and was scheduled to undergo surgery immediately. Ohio State is deep at safety, but getting up to speed in one week could be a tall order, especially with pass-happy Northwestern next on the schedule.

“Oh man, it’s hard to even talk about,” fellow senior captain Jack Mewhort said. “The energy he brings to this team and the juice – he’s such a good guy. He cares about everybody. It’s heart-wrenching. He’s a great friend, a great football player and a great leader.”

Pittsburgh Brown, Vonn Bell and Ron Tanner are all likely candidates to replace Bryant’s 22 tackles, an interception and two pass breakups. The area that will be difficult to replicate, though, is his leadership. Bryant was the most vocal member of the defense and arguably the best leader on the entire team.

“Our leader is in an ambulance right now going to the hospital,” Meyer said. “That’s the concerning part. He’s our leader, so that’s concern No. 1, 2 and 3.

“Who is going to assume that leadership obligation? The responsibility that he has shown, he’s an incredible young man.”

LeBron's value in recruiting is priceless.

King of Ohio State

LeBron James has never hidden where his allegiance lies when it comes to college sports – he’s a Buckeye. James may have spurned his home-state Cleveland Cavaliers, but he’s never wavered on Ohio State.

On Saturday night, he made the walk from the Blackwell to St. John Arena with the football team, and delivered a rousing speech to the 13,000-plus overflow, standing-room crowd at Skull Session.

“I promise, I say this all the time, if I had one year of college, I would have ended up here,” James said. “No matter where I go in the world, no matter where it is, I will always rock Ohio State colors.”

It drew a roar usually reserved for Meyer. The reaction to James’ appearance was far different than the one he received the last time he was on campus. When James and Dwyane Wade showed up for the basketball team’s showdown with Duke in 2011, the sellout crowd in Value City Arena booed them overwhelmingly. But the anger toward James has since subsided.

Meyer has long been in James’ corner, speaking glowingly about him at Big Ten media days the past two years. The Meyer family has attended Miami Heat games in the past and been photographed with James. Meyer and James’ relationship began when Meyer recruited him to play wide receiver at Notre Dame.

“LeBron is one of, arguably, the greatest champions, greatest competitors and most importantly, a Buckeye," Meyer told the crowd in St. John. 

This weekend was Ohio State’s biggest of the football season. More than 50 high-profile high school football players were guests of the Buckeyes. Thad Matta’s top target – Luke Kennard – was also in attendance. James’ visibility didn’t hurt.

Tight end Mike Gesicki tweeted, “Just watched Lebron James give a pre-game speech in the team room, so sick. #buckeyes This is the real deal.”

Said Meyer: “To have him come and be gracious with our team, visit our team, speak to our team. He loves Ohio State. And he's made that clear several times to me throughout the year.”

James shared in the revelry with fans and played catch on the field before kickoff. The Ohio State basketball team was honored on the field during the first half, and they were seen chatting with James on the Buckeye sideline. James watched the second half from athletic director Gene Smith’s suite.

Ohio State recently renovated the locker rooms at Value City Arena and added a LeBron James locker, complete with LeBron-issued team apparel to show recruits on visits. In 2007, the Buckeyes were the first school to wear James’ Nike gear.

“I couldn’t believe he was on the sideline,” wide receiver Devin Smith said. “When I heard he was coming, I was at a loss for words.”

Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better

For six days, the Ohio State defense heard all about Wisconsin’s rushing attack. Melvin Gordon entered as the top running back in the country, while James White had gained more yards during his career than any other active running back.

After 60 minutes with the Silver Bullets, the Badgers could only find room for 104 rushing yards, nearly 250 less than its season average. Gordon was held under 100 yards for the first time all season – 74, with no touchdowns. White had 31 yards and a score. The Buckeyes passed the test against the run game, but surprisingly, quarterback Joel Stave was able to get production through the air.

Stave finished with 295 yards passing, two touchdowns and interception. Jared Abbrederis had a career-high 207 yards receiving and one touchdown, with much of the yardage coming against Bradley Roby.

Ohio State, averaging 311 rushing yards per game, was held well under that, gaining 192 yards. But it averaged 4.5 yards per carry and could go to the well when needed.

“Everyone knows Wisconsin’s run attack and how it’s a power run game,” Meyer said. “But we are a power run football team. It may be out of different sets, it may not be with a bunch of tight ends and fullbacks and everyone on the field, but we are still going to run right at you and hit you in the mouth.”

Miller had 83 yards on 22 carries and Carlos Hyde tallied 85 yards on 17 carries. Interestingly, senior running back Jordan Hall, who started the first four games and was still considered the starter, had only one carry for five yards. Meyer said it was strictly a coach’s decision. He wanted to get Hall more touches, but said the opportunity never arose.



Chet Stedman's picture

Thing that I really liked was the secondary taking a page out of the Antoine Winfield book and putting the hammer down in the running game. Always good to see CBs not go ole when a RB is heading their way.

buckguyfan1's picture

Bryant will be missed, but he will continue to lead in a different way....  guys like that always do.

BSTP DeCon's picture

I'm really going to miss Bryant... Feel bad for the man and I hope he gets better soon... You're deeply missed, Bryant!!

ArizonaBuckeye's picture

Very choked up over Christian Bryant. Honestly, hard to see him go through that. I hope he makes a full recovery and can continue to inspire young men in the game of football. Be it as a coach or a player.

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you." -Woody Hayes-

Buckabroad's picture

Great win and gritty performance by the Buckeyes. For me, it is a bit overshadowed by Bryant's injury. Great kid who is not afraid to hit hard. In a way, he is our enforcer in the secondary. It will be very hard to handle this loss heading into pass-happy Northwestern with our secondary not playing up to full potential.

"The minute we stop expecting greatness, we become Wisconsin."

buckeye_heart's picture

Disappointed about Bryant. Is there any hope for him to come back for a bowl game, or to bad of an injury? To whoever is up next, step up fellas we have work to do.

zbd's picture

The secondary had guys left wide open. The backups need to tighten up their chin straps and get ready to play. The starters are weak. Vonn Bell, Apple, Powell, Burrows, Grant....somebody needs to step up.

Seattle Linga's picture

Adversity will be a blessing in disguise. I think Powell will prolly be that man but the leadership on the field will most definitely be missed.

GregB's picture

Dont know about anyone else but I really like Wisconsins coach.  Guy comports himself well and I think he would be a great guy down the road (at least 10 years I hope) to replace the 4 NCs (6 overall including Florida) of Urban.  Wisconsin had some breakdowns (as did we) but they played very tough and looked well coached.

Seattle Linga's picture

So far he seems to be a lot classier then Bert B. He and Urban worked together in the past so I know there is a lot of mutual respect. Someone that Wisky will really enjoy playing for in the future.

vitaminB's picture

Seems to have issues managing the clock at the ends of games.  There was no sense of urgency by the Wiski boys at the end of the game.

will0327's picture

People still calling for Kenny ....what does Braxton have to do to convince people


D-Day0043's picture

Is there any chance Bryant can get a medical redshirt? I don't know how that works. 

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lippertini's picture

I believe you can't have played in more than 20% of the games that season, which works out to fewer than three games.  This was his fifth, so no dice, unfortunately. 
Everybody's talking about his leadership, which is wonderful, but he was super quick and hard-hitting, and had just started to really play like a veteran.  He was all-Big Ten material, for sure.
Here's hoping he gets well soon, and that next men up can grow quickly.

D-Day0043's picture

I believe he missed the first game. I can't remember if he missed the second or not.

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AeroBuckeye2001's picture

I believe you can apply for a waiver from the NCAA, who will review the case. You never know. They granted Devin Gardner another year for essentially pulling a muscle in his back. I hope we can get him another year.

The Ohio State University Class of 2001

BS Aero & Astronautical Engineering

cajunbuckeye's picture

It was a great night and a fantastic game, but the news about Bryant put's a damper on things. Thoughts and prayers are with you Christian.

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

albinomosquito's picture

Is Abbrederis that good, or was Roby just that stinky?  Rough night for #1. Hopefully he bounces back next week.
And just a side note...  those uniforms looked sick under the lights!  I love those helmets.

RedStorm45's picture

Pretty poor showing IMO of plenty of fans heading to the gates early in the 4th quarter. Come on Buckeye Nation, this wasn't Buffalo.
EDIT - Wrong article to post.  Really tough about Bryant and unfortunate that a medical redshirt appears off the table.

osubuck57's picture

Absolutely stinks about Bryant. Big blow to defense as a whole and will be sorely missed. Know we can't replace his leadership on the field, but hope he can lead from the sideline and help Pittsburgh, Vonn, and Ron in other ways. Was playing lights out before he got hurt, just sick to hear.


sivaDavis's picture

Medical hardship waiver out of the question?

"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." - Woody Hayes

hetuck's picture

You're mixing two items: medical redshirt means extra year of eligibility. Don't think that can be done in game five. Medical waiver means you keep the equivalent of a scholarship, but don't play (Adam Griffin, Jamie Wood). Since Bryant is a senior, he will remain on scholarship for the balance of the school year.  

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

D-Day0043's picture

He missed a game at the beginning of the season too didn't he?

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lippertini's picture

I believe he played them all, and was the only upperclassman in the secondary for the first game.

sivaDavis's picture

Mixing two items? What are you talking about?

Anyway, sadly, it's looking like he wont be getting one if you are going to follow the guidelines that let you receive one. 5 games, and starting each one is tough. And CJ is the one who missed a game earlier, not Bryant.


"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." - Woody Hayes

J.Mo's picture

Christian Bryant is one hell of a player - it's going to be hard to replace him. Now I know the names Corey Brown, Von Bell and Ron Tanner are being thrown around but whatever happened to Devan Bogard? I know he was the first player to lose his black stripe last year. Possibly have a Glenville guy replace a Glenville guy. Ironically didn' CB replace JerMale Hines when Hines left for graduation?
Also I always assumed the starting Nickelback would slide over to the Safety position so shouldn't Tyris Powell's name be thrown out too as a possible replacement for CB?

Hovenaut's picture

I was never the player of Bryant's magnitude, but I got hurt my senior year in high school and football was over for me just like that.

Just hate this part of the game.

I wish Christian well, with hopes for a speedy recovery.


We have filled the Braxton Miller position.

ejoceans's picture

We will miss you big guy! Keep leading this team in any way you can!! O  H

Lets do this Brutus