Injured, Not Forgotten, Bryant Continues to Lead

By Kyle Rowland on November 19, 2013 at 9:15a
26 Comments
CB2 may be back for the bowl game.

Senior Day is a cherished highlight of every player’s career. National championships, conference titles and wins over rivals are spoken of long after they depart Old State U. The final home game is also a memory that stands the test of time.

At Ohio State, it doesn’t matter if the last game in Ohio Stadium comes against Indiana or Michigan, the crowd is early arriving and players are showered with thunderous ovations. Christian Bryant’s experience will differ from his teammates’ Saturday. He’ll embrace Urban Meyer and his parents under the power of crutches after suffering a broken ankle in late September. Bryant wants to walk, though he won’t be fitted with a walking boot for another two weeks.

“It will be one of those emotional days for me,” Bryant said Monday. “It could possibly be my last game in the Shoe. Just walking out and seeing the fans’ reaction to me walking out of the tunnel for the last time in the ‘Shoe, I feel like it’s probably going to be a great experience.”

There remains a chance Bryant, a co-captain, could return for a fifth year of eligibility if Ohio State appeals to the NCAA and wins, granting Bryant a medical redshirt – if he doesn’t return for the bowl game, which is also an option. But the senior safety is entering Saturday as if it’s his last hurrah, even if he’s standing on the sideline. Bryant confessed he wouldn’t be upset if a fifth year isn’t in his future.

The Buckeyes’ win over Wisconsin remains their biggest win of the season. However, it doubles as a night the defense was permanently changed. Bryant’s injury came in the final seconds, leaving Meyer anguished at his postgame press conference — he slammed the podium in frustration — and for multiple weeks thereafter.

“I couldn’t even begin to understand the feelings [Bryant] probably has because he’s such a competitor,” fellow senior captain Jack Mewhort said. “It’s going to be emotional for all of us knowing he wants to be out there with us and he can’t. We appreciate him and we love him and I know we’ll be thinking about him.”

Bryant was the heart and soul of the secondary.

While he can’t make an impact on the field, Bryant has continued being a presence at the football facility, in the locker room and on game days. Not remaining involved in the everyday comings and goings of the program wasn’t an option, Bryant said. He was the vocal leader before his setback and continues to carry that torch. Motivation is never lacking on the sideline with Bryant constantly in the defense and secondary’s ear.

“He’s still the spark plug on our defense. He has a tremendous value,” co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Everett Withers said. “He’s still the guy that everybody on that defense looks to. He’s the guy that if something isn’t going well, he’s going to let everybody know that it isn’t going well and why it isn’t going well. If it’s going well, he’s going to be a positive role model on that sideline.

“He has a tremendous role, and I think our players feel good when he’s there. He provides a glue to our football team.”

In the immediate aftermath of the injury, the reality of the situation quickly set in for Bryant. He believed it was a fluke but that didn’t lessen the pain. As his teammates prepared for a primetime game at Northwestern, Bryant moped, the victim of an emotional funk.

But a support system quickly formed around Bryant that included his family, friends, teammates and coaches. His spirits were raised and his loose exterior reemerged.

“As soon as it happened, my mind was racing just because I couldn’t quite understand why it may have happened,” Bryant said. “I was probably in that hole about a week. But my teammates, my family, the coaches – everybody stood by me.

“Everybody was positive about the whole situation. With positive people around me influencing me, I had no choice but to be positive about the whole situation. Right now, that’s where I’m at with the whole process.”

The uplifting moments only continued when Ryan Shazier sought Bryant’s approval to a question before practice one day. Could he wear Bryant’s No. 2, the linebacker asked. Bryant didn’t flinch, hesitate or waver. His answer was a resounding yes.

“That really put the icing on the cake. That means the world to me,” Bryant said. “I feel like everyone knows that my spirit is still out on the field even though I’m not physically out there. It was a great, humbling experience for me.”

So with their undisputed leader on the sideline, the Silver Bullets look to Shazier to provide that extra boost. He’s done Bryant proud while wearing his digit. In Saturday’s win at Illinois, Shazier tallied 16 tackles, including 1.5 sacks and a safety. That output netted Shazier Big Ten and national defensive player of the week honors.

“I think it just pushed him a little bit, knowing he had to be out there making plays for me and him,” Bryant said. “He knows how many plays I’d be out there making.”

26 Comments

Comments

mc22's picture

Haven't really followed his injury update - but is there any way to him to be ready for whatever bowl game we will be in?

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Thanks to CB for all of his outstanding contributions to the football program! Best wishes to him in his ongoing recovery. Buckeye fans know that he'll come back stronger than ever, wherever his next steps take him.

Oyster's picture

If Gardner can get a medical redshirt for a fake back injury, certainly Bryant should get one for a broken ankle.  And for our ttun friends, you all know it was fake.  He dressed every game and his first redshirt was burned by RR to prove a point when Tater was pouting and DR was dinged up.  If you can't play due to a back injury, why would you dress?

R.I.P. Otsego

RedStorm45's picture

There remains a chance Bryant, a co-captain, could return for a sixth year of eligibility if Ohio State appeals to the NCAA and wins, granting Bryant a medical redshirt – if he doesn’t return for the bowl game, which is also an option. But the senior safety is entering Saturday as if it’s his last hurrah, even if he’s standing on the sideline. Bryant confessed he wouldn’t be upset if a sixth year isn’t in his future.

Someone jump in here, but wasn't Bryant a 2010 commit?  That means the 2013 season is only his 4th in the Scarlet and Gray.  I don't recall him red-shirting.

sivaDavis's picture

Yeah it was just a mistake. He never redshirted. This was his Senior year, he would be looking for a 5th year of eligibility. 

"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

GoBucks713's picture

I'd love to see this kid come back. He's a true warrior and when he went down and didn't get back up, I knew it was going to be bad. I'm glad we've been able to enjoy him here in Columbus the past few seasons, and will probably be the player I miss the most from this group of seniors.

-The Aristocrats!

Earle's picture

Here's a question:  Would you rather have Bryant back at less than 100% for a potential NC game, or back next year (with a medical redshirt) for a run at the 2014 NC?

Italics are for emphasis.

stittracer99's picture

This sounds like it would be a good poll question for tomorrow.

avail31678's picture

Sounds like a no-brainer to me...would you like to have one cookie, or 14 cookies?
I'd take him back in a heartbeat for next year if the NCAA would let us.

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

Depends.... any chance we can convince Roby and Shazier to give it another go next year?  I know I would follow the money, but think of how dominant that defense could be next year.  

Read my entire screen name....

Earle's picture

Yes, but what if the one cookie is made of crystal?

Italics are for emphasis.

Seth4Bucks's picture

If Bryant returning would mean the difference between winning a potential NCG or losing it I would take him back for the game. 14 cookies sounds good and all, but what if the one cookie was the biggest baddest cookie of them all?

Clinger76's picture

Back next year!!! Earle

Our Honor Defend, I will fight to the end for......O-HI-O!!

ChazBuckeye's picture

I have a feeling there'll be some emotional individuals on Saturday.  Being many of their last games in The Shoe, I don't think many will have dry eyes.

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

FitzBuck's picture

I would want him back next season.  Reason: he deserves to play against UM and have a proper senior season.  
Also senior night would be against UM next year.  
Love that dude.  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

Hovenaut's picture

I lost my opportunity to finish my senior (high school) year, finding the limitations of how the knee can bend during homecoming. Seeing Bryant go down really affected me more ways than one.

Not to say I wouldn't rather have him out there playing, but I think CB has shown a tremendous amount of character in still leading his teammates in spite of the injury.

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

FitzBuck's picture

HOV maybe next year we can organize a 11w flag football game.  
Teams could be Hail, M man and Bamamike vs all OSU fans on the site.
We will send you out with a w bro.  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

Hovenaut's picture

Lol....nice.

I made peace with it, actually recovered (a year or so later, in the NAV) to play some on my ships' team when we were homeported (which wasn't very often).

The thoughts of a football game between 11 Dubbers and the poor souls over on M Go is an intriguing idea.

BRING THE NOISE!

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

osubuck57's picture

not betting on it, but would love if NCAA finally got something right, and gave this kid a 5th year of eligibility!! It's the right thing to do. Would much rather have him back for a full year and let him go out his way. Either way, he'll land on his feet!! Saturday will be very emotional, for sure.

SCOTTC.

Seattle Linga's picture

CB is a Witch - somehow ... someway he will be playing in our bowl game. 

osubigcunn's picture

Someone needs to get on the horn and get Doss down to Columbus and convince these guys (Shazier, Roby, Bryant (if he gets the chance), etc.) to return next year. He is a great example as to why you come back for your senior year (or another year for some players cases) to win the ultimate prize. ESPECIALLY since we will most likely get screwed out of it this year.  Just think about it though, Senior year, 24 games in a row and counting (with no reason to think another undefeated season isn't highly probable (albeit with a young line), first year of the playoff, National Champions (38 wins in a row and counting). Urban STILL without a loss at OSU. Now that is a way to go out... granted millions of dollars is also nice too. Although the signing bonus may look better with that on the resume.

Ethos's picture

No way.  If they think they will get drafted they are gone.  That is millions they would be turning down, and the NFL scouts could care less about what achievements your team secured.  I think Meyer would be honest with them and tell them to go if he thought they needed to go.  Hence why you see so many guys from smaller conferences or D2 schools in the NFL.  They are only looking at talent and the promise of talent.  You only have to look at what has happened to Roby to know you should go while the going is hot.  He was a 1st round pick last year, now that chance is all but gone.
 

"What do you need water for, Sunshine?!" - Coach Coombs, if you don't love this man, you have no soul.

skid21's picture

Where was Bryant projected in the draft prior to his injury?

Ethos's picture

he's projected 7th round, with the injury, dunno what it was before.

"What do you need water for, Sunshine?!" - Coach Coombs, if you don't love this man, you have no soul.

shaggybuckeye's picture

I think you mean 26 games in a row assuming we get the B1G Championship game and a bowl game. 12-0 last year + 14-0 this year
 
Then again I've seen a lot of people say 24 so maybe I'm missing something.