Surging Shazier Finds Inspiration in No. 2

By Kyle Rowland on November 26, 2013 at 9:15a
26 Comments
Ryan Shazier is closing November hard.

Ryan Shazier doesn’t want to talk about it. Did you play your final game in Ohio Stadium Saturday? That question has been posed to Shazier in various capacities to which he’s not yet answered, at least not directly. What’s blatantly obvious is that his performance in the 42-14 thrashing of Indiana was his best as a Buckeye.

It is no secret that Shazier has evolved into one of the top linebackers in the country. The junior from southwest Florida counts a Big Ten-best 109 tackles and 20.5 tackles for loss to his credit. His NFL draft stock has soared this season with current projections tabbing him as a mid-first-round selection. That’s why Saturday could have been his swan song in the Horseshoe.

Consider it a lasting image if it was his final act in Columbus. Shazier finished with a career-high 20 tackles, 16 solo, five tackles for loss, a sack, forced fumble and pass breakup. The 16 solo tackles tied a school record set by Tom Cousineau in 1978, the five tackles for loss tied a school record held by five players and the 20 tackles were the most by a Buckeye since A.J. Hawk tallied the same number in 2004.

It led to Big Ten defensive player of the week honors for Shazier, an award that is quickly becoming his own personal weekly pat on the back.

“I felt like I had a pretty good day, but I was just going out and doing what I had to do,” Shazier said. “I didn’t really know I had 20 tackles until the end of the game.”

Pretty good is a curious way to describe one of the top defensive efforts in school history. Head coach Urban Meyer said Shazier’s 54 production points were by far the most he’s ever seen. This on top of 16 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble against Illinois. Since switching to the No. 2 in honor of injured teammate Christian Bryant – six games – Shazier has recorded 72 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He’s a first-team All-American candidate and surged to front-runner status for the Butkus Award. 

The increase in production is no coincidence. Shazier admitted the number change and absence of one of his best friends weighed on him.

“I think it’s a really big impact. I’ve been playing for [Bryant],” Shazier said. “Before, I was just playing for myself and the team. Now it’s like there are two people in me almost. I’m trying to make sure both of us are happy with the game I play. I’m just trying to do my part.”

Shazier shares a close bond with many of the seniors, being just one class behind them. He confessed to crying in his hotel room before making the walk to St. John Arena and the stadium Saturday afternoon because of his attachment to the 19 fourth- and fifth-year players.

Shazier's line from Illinois: 16 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3.5 TFLs and one forced fumble.16 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3.5 TFLs and a forced fumble that day.

“I did everything I could to make sure Christian and the seniors went out with a bang,” Shazier said.

Desire comes naturally when Ohio State and Michigan meet, which means Shazier could go into overdrive in Ann Arbor. If the trend in recent games continues, he might match or even surpass Chris Spielman’s school-record tying 29 tackles in the 1986 edition of The Game. For Shazier, a week of feasts is on tap.

Michigan ranks last in the nation – 123rd – in tackles for loss allowed and 110th in sacks allowed, a whopping three per game. The porous offensive line creates no running space for running backs, leading to a field day for linebackers. The Wolverines rushing offense stands at No. 100. In back-to-back games in November, they ran for minus-48 and minus-21 yards. 

“That sounds good to me, but like every week, we’re always going to get their best,” Shazier said, when Michigan’s TFLs were pointed out. “I know they’ve probably given up a thousand tackles for loss this season, but I know going into this game that they’re going to try to give up as little as possible.”

Last Saturday afternoon brought snow flurries and gusty winds to Central Ohio, making Ohio Stadium resemble Bedford Falls, N.Y. When you’ve grown up on the Gulf of Mexico, late Novembers in the Midwest wreak havoc with your mind and body. Shazier snickered at the suggestion that it was football weather.

“To me, football weather is 95 degrees,” he said, laughing.

Emotion drives Shazier on the field, something he’s learned to harness into production. A bulk of it coincides with fellow linebackers Curtis Grant and Joshua Perry still not at the level Meyer and Luke Fickell expect. But even running back Carlos Hyde, who doesn’t have too many opportunities to watch the defense on the sideline, has taken notice to Shazier’s on-field exploits and referred to him as the top linebacker in college football.

The same goes for Meyer, an offensive-minded coach, but he’s observed Shazier’s gangbuster style and also credits the passion Shazier exudes each time he steps foot inside a stadium.

“He’s playing at a very high level,” Meyer said. “His heart is everything. He wears his feelings on his sleeve, and the players love him for it. And so do I. He’s a very emotional player who plays that way on the field.”

Said Shazier: “My goal is to be one of the best. I’m just going to keep doing what I do and do my job.”

26 Comments

Comments

Buckeye1996's picture

Another great LB in a long line of great ones.

Hovenaut's picture

If he is soon considering playing on Sundays, he's put a strong excla_ation point on his ti_e playing on Saturdays.

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

Jason Gruber's picture

He looked like a man among boys Saturday. He is going to be a beast in the NFL. Enjoy him while we have him. I hope he rocks Gardner a couple times this week. 

"You win with People" Woody Hayes

Doc's picture

Ryan Da_n Shazier!  He's _y favorite player on this tea_.  I hope he gives us one _ore year, but if not good luck to you Ryan, and thank you for your heart and integrity.

"Say my name."

iantrevor's picture

Looks like you get to add another na_e to this shirt:

Seattle Linga's picture

Props on the shirt - there will be a few more names added in the next few years 

Breakawayspeed's picture

Appears that he is as good as gone. (sniff)  Seems like just yesterday when we where wondering, "Who the hell is that freshman hard-hitting LB that plays so fast?"  Like Archie before him , not only a great player, but a better person

bigbill992001's picture

If he is a mid-1st round pick, then he HAS to go out.

M5gatronBuckeye's picture

He is a beast and it has been an honor watching him give it is all!

"I play to win, whether during practice or a real game. And I will not let anything get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win"
Michael Jordan

extemporary08's picture

What's not to like about this guy?!

Grayskullsession's picture

If he plays lights out against TTUN and his stock raises to 1st round he is good as gone.

"if irony were made of strawberries, we' d all be drinking a lot of smoothies right now."

Alpo's picture

His attitude and approach to the ga_e just make hi_ that _uch _ore fun to watch and root for. Whether or not we have seen the last of RDS in the shoe, we have to be thankful for what we have witnessed to this point. Nothing but love and best wishes in whatever he decides to do next year. 

Denny's picture

"Can't sleep, Shazier will eat me." - Devin Gardner, probably

Taquitos.

pjtobin's picture

I got to shake his hand before the whiskey game. He is a very nice guy. I thought it was awesome that he stopped and said thanks for cheering. I hope he stays one more year. Either way I sure am glad we had him as long as we have. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

Dirty419Boy's picture

Great stuff.
It's easy to assume high levels of character in your favorite players, with very little to no basis.  But with this team, I really get a very strong impression that it has a large number of quality people on it, thanks in no small part to Coach Tressel.  And Ryan Shazier is cream of the crop.
 

BucksfanXC's picture

Didn't he and his dad say last year that'd he'd be a four year player? I think if your first round draft stock right now, you go now. But I'd love to have RDS around for another year.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

Mizzillion's picture
Buckabroad's picture

One of the greatest and one of my favorite Buckeyes. Do what's right for you RDS, but know that if you go, you will be missed and ever respected in Buckeye Nation.

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

LouBuck35's picture

The Real Linebacker U.

I want a fall Saturday in Ohio Stadium..

PaulJones's picture

Since I have been watching Ohio State in the mid 90s our other great linebackers have had other talented guys around them.  Katzenmoyer had Ryan Miller/Greg Bellasari and later Na'il Diggs.  Wilhelm had Cie Grant and a young Hawk.  Hawk had Carpenter and Schlegel.  James Laurinatis had Marcus Freeman and Brian Rolle.  Ryan Shazier doesn't have nearly the talent in the linebacking corp as his predecessors; I'd love to have any of those other guys play with Ryan.  It is a testament to his ability. 

Him1stftballl8er's picture

I accidentally fat fingered a down vote. Sorry about that. 

The wise shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the promotion of fools. 

GOOMBAY's picture

His wallet is the one that says Bad Mother[and so forth].

Seattle Linga's picture

Just look at the crop of young LB's we have in the stable - can't wait til they hit the field. PSU does not = LB U

WhySoSerious's picture

Little drunk but I wish this dude was my brother or some shit. Classy dude. By far my favorite linebacker since watching the Buckeyes.  RDS for heisman, anybody?