It's Not Just the Seniors' Play You Should Savor

By Michael Citro on November 21, 2013 at 4:15p
40 Comments
They don't make many like these three.

Yesterday you got some great advice from Ramzy when he told you to enjoy this 2013 Ohio State football season. It was wise counsel, but not just for the excellent reasons he gave you.

Although we shouldn’t dwell on sad things, we’re going to do just that for the length of this column. Because there’s another reason you should savor these last two regular season games, a likely Big Ten championship game (one win pending) and Ohio State’s bowl game. In addition to the numerous seniors leaving at the end of the year, the Buckeyes may also lose three key underclassmen.

Of the players that could find themselves in cities other than Columbus when footballs are kicked off next season, three of the hardest for Ohio State to replace don’t have to go — but they might choose to do so. Cornerback Bradley Roby, linebacker Ryan Shazier and quarterback Braxton Miller might all hear the siren’s call of the NFL. In fact, Roby already admitted as much to Urban Meyer.

When the season ends, Miller and Shazier will probably weigh their options, do some research and figure out what the right thing is for them to do. We’d keep them for a long time if we could, but an athlete’s window for earning wages on a professional sports level is a small one, and staying in school to play a violent sport jeopardizes that window, no matter how much we live in denial.

Herein, we’ll take a look at what Ohio State might have to replace (and in Roby’s case, must replace) next season.

Starting with Roby, who has already made his intentions clear, the Buckeyes will have to find a new boundary corner. Although he may not be having the season many people expected, Roby’s loss is going to sting.

In addition to his cover skills, which are considerable, Roby is a good force player against the run and a solid open field tackler. He’s fourth on Ohio State in tackles this season, despite missing a game, with 45 total stops. That’s 155 tackles in just under three seasons of play. Many will call him out for giving up a lot to Wisconsin in the passing game, but he was also very good at stopping the jet sweep and edge runs in that contest.

Against the pass, he’s tied with Doran Grant for the team lead in interceptions, with three, taking one of them 63 yards to the house at Illinois. Often his mere presence is enough to consider his defender covered. He has team highs in pass breakups (9) and passes defensed (12). That’s a total of eight career picks and 32 breakups.

He can ball on special teams, too. His blocked punt and recovery for a touchdown against Northwestern was a huge play early in a tight game. It was his second career blocked punt. The man has a defensive and a special teams touchdown two years in a row. Good luck finding someone to pick up where he left off.

DON'T EVER LEAVE US!How, exactly, does one replace this guy?

Armani Reeves will be the favorite to step in. His career to date speaks more of promise than delivery, like all young players, but he’d have to make a jump similar to Doran Grant’s next year for you to avoid spending an inordinate amount of your wages on Maalox.

As big a loss as Roby’s would be on the defensive side of the ball, Shazier’s would likely be even more deeply felt. The junior linebacker is all over the field and is not only the anchor of a way-too-thin position group, but he’s also the team’s leading defensive playmaker and — since Christian Bryant was injured — the heart and soul of the D.

Shazier leads the conference in tackles for loss (14.5), is fourth in the B1G in tackles (88), tied for seventh in sacks (4.5), and tied for first in forced fumbles (3). Not only does the junior from Florida have 260 career stops and continually make big plays, but he doesn’t have anyone pushing from behind for his playing time. Where will those minutes go without him? Curtis Grant? Josh Perry? Freshman Mike Mitchell? Other?

In years past, there has been a natural successor to Ohio State’s top linebacker. That’s how you follow an A.J. Hawk with a James Laurinitis. But there isn’t an obvious one moving from 2013 to 2014 and it will be a lot to ask for someone to replace Shazier’s production if he chooses to jump into Sunday football.

Then there’s Braxton.

Statistically, Miller is one of the greatest quarterbacks in Ohio State history. He’s the 11th leading rusher Ohio State has ever had — first among quarterbacks — with 2,580 yards, and he should pass Raymont Harris for tenth this season. He’s ninth in passing with 4,664 yards and will likely pass Jim Karsatos this year for eighth.

In just under three seasons he’s racked up 7,244 yards — the second most by any Ohio State player ever, trailing only four-year starter Art Schlichter’s 8,850. Miller is responsible for 20 touchdowns this season and 68 in his career. He’s tied with Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith for second all time. He’d almost certainly pass Schlichter’s 85 touchdowns with another season.

Where does a team go after a Braxton Miller? When you go from Terrelle Pryor to Miller, you’re falling upwards, but at some point the wild ride at the Vegas tables takes a turn and now you’re at the ATM again, trying to convince yourself that it’ll all be ok if you pick up a few extra shifts when you get back home and you didn’t really need a car when there’s a perfectly good city bus you can ride.

Next year you’d either be watching Cardale Jones, an SUV in cleats, work on improving his passing skills, or a freshman playing in his first collegiate games. They might turn out to be OK — possibly even excellent — but they wouldn’t be Braxton Miller. Let’s just hope he listens to Craig Krenzel.

None of this is intended to scare you or make you feel bad. It’s simply a reminder that what you’re watching — the players and the team — is special, and you should be savoring it. There are, at most, four games left in the 2013 season. While you’re drinking in the final games of the senior class with your eyes, spare a few moments to watch Roby, Shazier and Miller too.

Just in case.

40 Comments

Comments

Riggins's picture

Roby is gone. Shazier is ready, but I hope he returns.  Braxton going pro early would be a huge mistake.  Maybe I'm naive, but I'm not worried about losing #5 a year early in the slightest.

topher3003's picture

If Braxton leaves it would probably be for financial reasons. He does have a son to take care of after all.

Ethos's picture

also health.  He's had a scare every year and next years line is even younger.

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

Haybucks's picture

Lack of line blocking didn't hurt Braxton this year or last. Both times he was injured at the end of a run, being tackled via horse collar and an awkward hit on the knee.

I never make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect.
- Edward Gibbon
 

calebhouser9's picture

Braxton needs to stay one more year. To impressed with his improvements, one more year will even be better for him in the long run.

CalebHouser9

osubuck57's picture

The only head scratcher would be braxton leaving early. Shazier and Roby make sense. Personally, think Braxton needs 1 more year to improve his draft status. Their will be durability issues as well, with him either missing whole games or parts of games due to injury. Have heard he's a new father, so might be a mute point altogether. Either way, best of luck to our Buckeyes, wherever their journey takes them!!

SCOTTC.

Seattle Linga's picture

Agreed and raised you by 100% - Also - by him coming back he would prove (if he stays healthy) that he can play a whole collegiate season without the injury bug.   

d5k's picture

It should be noted that Trey Johnson has been Shazier's direct backup at WLB all year so he's probably the guy to beat for that spot if Shazier goes pro.  Just mentioning that since I think 4 of our other 6 active guys on the depth chart were mentioned but not Trey.

BAR43's picture

Roby most likely gone. There is no way Miller leaves, still has more to improve and that was evident against illinois, still needs to get touch more consistent in passes. Shazier is unlikely but could happen. His issue is lack of size, which he cold use another year o bulk up, otherwise he is looking at secondary position in nfl.

dlb72osu's picture

Shazier's "issue is lack of size". Really? There once was a player named Chris Spielman who lacked size. He was only 6' and mid 240's verses RDS's 6'2" and 237. I wonder how Mr. Spielman worked out for the Detroit Lions?
As they say, you can't measure heart.
I also hope Shazier stays, but the window to make a decent wage is very, very small. We will miss him like we have all great OSU players, but they will always be in our best wishes.

I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.
- Invictus

darbnurb's picture

I am currently playing a season of TECMO Super Bowl with Detroit and Spielman is tearing it up.  And I am not even controlling him.  Proof right there that Shazier will be fine in NFL.  

Ethos's picture

I think Braxton needs to take a hard look at his offensive line next year to make his decision.  There is a serious concern there for him getting injured because he may find himself having to do more with his legs next year.  THAT may be the deciding factor for him.

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

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

I actually can't wait to see Cardale in 2015.

When you go from Terrelle Pryor to Miller,


You hurt him deeply, Mike.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

avail31678's picture

You might get to see Cardale in 2014 even!

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Might be too soon.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

fanatibuck's picture

LMAO!!!! Bauserman need not apply. Where is the Husker Memorial stadium pass chart when you need it? LOL

THE URBANATOR AND HIS BOYS' JOURNEY HAS JUST BEGUN; 26-0 IS COMING BABY!!

Haybucks's picture

Don't have a chart, but have some Greatest Hits moments.

I never make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect.
- Edward Gibbon
 

Doc's picture

I think both Shazier and Miller will be back.  Shazier seems like a kid that really likes the college experience.  Miller's kid is a year old now, I think he'll be back to get the Hiesman.  But, I could be wrong.

"Say my name."

ArizonaBuckeye's picture

Wish the young men the best of luck in whatever decision is best for them and their families. I hope Miller stays b/c he could use another year to fine tune his game, but I think the overhaul on the O-line might just be why he decides to head to the NFL. Shazier is undersized for the LB position at the NFL level. Unless scouts are thinking of him as a safety, I think he should stay another year to bulk up if LB is his desired position. And we all know Roby is gone for sure, so I wish him the best of luck.

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

The Buck Guy's picture

Agree with all three points here. I know most think Shazier is a foregone conclusion to go, but like you point out his size doesn't match the NFL LB criteria yet. However, he has tremendous upside for his physical growth potential. Another season under Mariota and he will be a 1st rounder in '15.

~ The Buck Guy
Go Bucks!!!!

ArizonaBuckeye's picture

Agree. Another year under with Coach Mick and Shazier will be down right scary.

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

buckeyepastor's picture

Roby is ready as he's going to be.  Struggled more this year than people expected, so I think it's time for him to get what he can.   I don't see him having the career of a Winfield or Springs at the next level as he never really became that "lock-down" player who could shut down a third of the field, but I think he's good for a handful of quality years on the NFL.   
Shazier, Gawd, we will miss him.  Easily the biggest loss, even if Miller elects to go pro.   I wish I could find a reason for him to stay, a part of his game that has a glaring deficiency, but I don't. Maybe a disappointing end of the season that has us passed over for the championship game will inspire him to return and go after a title, or he'll want to finish getting his degree.   Otherwise - he gone.   
As for Miller, he's improved his efficiency and his touch to where it needs to be.  Way better as a passer than last year, from mechanics to seeing the field to figuring out coverages.   But he still struggles with some of his reads, he still doesn't run the offense as efficiently in terms of his decision-making and taking care of the ball as Guiton, and scouts can't be crazy about a QB that has to "pack it in" and stop throwing when it gets too windy.   I think he's a more complete player and a better prospect than Pryor was at this point in his career, but he's still got some things to improve on.  We've seen his ceiling for a couple quarters here and there, but it's gotta be more often than that for the next level.  
Some have pointed out a rush to enter the draft because he's already had several injuries.  To me, the injuries are already a mark against him.  I think teams will want to see that he's durable enough to handle the grind.  Going pro without ever making it through a full 12-game season, how will he ever be trust to make it through 16 games?   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

Kindell's picture

You can't be shocked though when any of these players leave anymore.  Nothing is guaranteed for these guys because of the nature of the sport.  You should be able to improve your stock another year if everything goes right.  I will never have to make the decision,  but I am sure it's not easy to turn down millions.
We know Roby is going, and it's likely that Shazier will follow.  I really hope that Braxton returns because he has meant so much to the program.  He has made incredible strides as a passer this year.  I think another year would help him a lot in becoming a successful QB in the NFL.  I would also like to see him finish solidifying himself in all the OSU record books.

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

If we had the beasts on the OL back next year I'd have no doubt Brax would be back. With 4 new starters in 2014 (even with Tucker and Huerman back) that might be enough to make him want to leave. Then again, nobody should ever doubt Ed Warinner and Urban Meyer after rebuilding the OL last season. If anyone can give Brax that security blanket it's those two guys.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

I_Run_The_Dave's picture

Also keep in mind that Warinner has had all of the replacements for at least a year, which already means they'll be better than last years line started.  I don't think we have much to worry about for next year.

alust2013's picture

Shazier is one of those guys that seems like he would want to stick around, at least that's how it sounds based on how Urban talks about him. Either way, next year could be tricky or it could be like last year and surprise people. 

...and Michigan still sucks.

CharlieBuckeye's picture

Players come and players go- they will always be BUCKEYES - how firm thy friendship
O-H-I-O!!!!!!
 
GO BUCKEYES!!!!!!

"To have a great life simply follow this rule:  Do not bring undo conflict into your life..."
Charlie Baker - OSU - 1986

bigbill992001's picture

Whats the deal with Mitchell?   Havent heard much about him lately.   Brax NEEDS another yr., and he could realistically take home a Heisman, thus increasing his $ value.   Im worried about the O-line, next yr., tho.   And LB.

Eddie314's picture

Agree with what most have said above but I believe another sticking point on whether or not Brax goes pro is how deep the QB class is this year.  I expect him to at least test the waters this spring and see where he stacks up with the other QBs in this draft class.  Best of luck to all three whether in the league or as Buckeyes next year.
 

mtrotb's picture

Hopefully Apple or Conley can have a great spring, summer, and fall camp and win the spot to replace Roby.  If Reeves is the starter he will continue to get roasted and toasted like he has this year.

mtrotb

ChazBuckeye's picture

Love the article but disagree that Braxton could or (due to injuries) will go pro along with Roby. As far as Braxton, I just don't see him being ready to pass in the league...not with as fast as the game is at that level.  He can easily run with them, but passing is another situation.
RDS is almost a foregone conclusion to go pro.  He's going to end up either winning a host of awards or at the least being nominated.  He's a beast and I can't see him staying another year (but it sure would be cool if he did). ;-)    

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.

Hovenaut's picture

Whatever happens for 2014, here's to the best possible finish for these three - along with the seniors - for 2013.

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

GOOMBAY's picture

If they played for Baylor, their decisions would have been made much quicker. (Is this old yet?)
Seriously, watch every game like it's their last. At the end of the day, this particular team has delivered more highs than lows, and keeps delivering. 

DBell8's picture

I'd like to think that Braxton and Shazier will be back next year, and it may still happen, but I feel as though they are both gone along with Roby. Braxton needs the money apparently and Shazier is definitely NFL ready. Best case scenario is that Braxton comes back to improve his draft stock and win the Heisman, and Shazier still remains hungry and wants to play one more year under Urban.

Blue Eyed Buckeye's picture

My opinion from a career perspctive:
- Roby should stay.  He is a 2nd round pick this year but clearly has the talent to be a 1st round pick.  Stay for another year and show you can put it all together
- Shazier should go.  He's had an incredible incredible season, he's played very well.  He's got an injury history but has been uninjured all season.  I would not risk another injury because that will drop him 1 if not 2 rounds in the draft.  Get out now and take the money
- Miller should stay.  This is a QB-heavy class and Braxton hasn't shown he can pass for 50 attempts in a game against good defenses.  He's a 4th round pick in this year's draft but a sure-fire 1st round pick in next year's QB-depleted draft if he shows improved passing ability in 2014.

cinserious's picture

 
Or maybe Jones needs to improve his 'school-playing' skills.

"Get him a body bag, Yeah!"

The Buck Guy's picture

Miller knows that this season was an Incomplete, and so he is behind a large class of QBs in the '14 draft projections (best I've seen for Miller is 6th to 7th round). Krenzel is right, Miller needs to show more to NFL GMs with an uninjured season at his highest level of skill. Besides  that, he has stated that he really wants to compete for the Heisman Trophy. No chance for that in this season. Next year, with a rookie O-line, new starting running back, and new go-to WR, all of the focus will be Miller Time, all of the time!
I predict that Brax returns in '14, has a magical season, wins the Heisman in a landslide, and garners headlines making a case for him as the greatest college QB of all time.

~ The Buck Guy
Go Bucks!!!!

SMP's picture

Armani Reeves will be the favorite to step in. His career to date speaks more of promise than delivery, like all young players, but he’d have to make a jump similar to Doran Grant’s next year for you to avoid spending an inordinate amount of your wages on Maalox.

 
 
I would like to think Apple will make the jump in replacing Roby over Reeves.

Buckinthemiddle's picture

If Braxton leaves I wouldn't be so sure that Cardale Jones would be the starter next year. While he does have some playing experience, and good size and speed, he also has an attitude problem that needs corrected (Sound familiar?). My money is on J.T. Barrett who's a lot more like Braxton in terms of his style and athleticism. I believe he's more the prototype for Urban's fast-paced run and gun style.

"I'm in favor of it" - John McKay, on the execution of his team.