I know a lot of the comments on Eleven Warriors have wished warm regards to Captain Christian Bryant, but I wanted to pause for a moment and reflect on what this young man has put on the line...and publicly thank him for what he has meant to this team. He lost perhaps a future in the NFL (but miracles do happen), and more immediately painful...an opportunity to lead on the field for this (second!) extraordinary team at Ohio State led by Urban Meyer. Nobody said it better than the head coach when he pounded the lectern and choked up at the thought of that very same thing. But Meyer wasn't as choked up about the loss of Bryant's leadership as he was about the loss to the young man himself!
Football isn't everything...us everyday yahoos know there is life beyond it. But it certainly is everything right now to these kids. We, as adults who might've already seen our (speaking for me) physically best years, live in part, vicariously through the exploits of our beloved Buckeyes, kids, just like Bryant. And injuries like this can be devastating to talented young men growing into the prime of life...and hard to take even for those of us with nothing really invested except our love for the team.
Good leadership and sound psychology go hand in hand. These kids have genuinely bought in to the principles being taught, not just the ra ra, banner waving kind, either. They trust the staff. They do force themselves to go to the very edge in the weight room, and to exhaustion on the practice field...just for an opportunity to lay it all out there on Saturday nights under the lights. And because of the relentless effort of those willing to sacrifice for the glory of stepping onto the field for The Ohio State University, dreams are fulfilled.
But sometimes dreams are broken...shattered by injury, stupidity, or laziness.
Christian Bryant has shown neither of the latter two. In fact, young men like him are the cream rising to the top. Sometimes it takes a few years for this to happen, and sometimes it never happens at all. Rarely does it happen immediately. And even if it happens, it is even more rarely coupled with the ability to be a true leader on the field of play, but that is exactly what happened in Bryant's case. His leadership abilities were coaxed out by the soundness of the coaching and mentoring philosophy employed by Mr. Meyer and his trusted assistants. Good leadership begets good leadership.
Christian Bryant emerged last year as a more than solid player, and escalated that improvement with another improvement this year as the games wore on. He was approaching that venerable status of "shutdown", and perhaps, if given the rest of the year, would be tuning up for a national championship with NFL scouts taking note. But barring that one incredible set of circumstances that would clear him for a return in January, he is lost to the field.
As stated by the players themselves, there is a solid confidence in those behind him. But it is his on-field generalship that they will miss. The Next Man Up attitude is fully in play here, and somebody will fill the void...because there is no choice.
But for Christian Bryant...our prayers are with you young man, and whether or not you ever step foot in the defensive backfield again for Ohio State, you are hereby thanked from the bottom of our hearts for your contribution to the team and to the tradition of excellence at Ohio State.
Thank you, and though I can only speak for myself, I know every true Buckeye fan feels the same.
May God bless your endeavors in life, and keep you close to the program you love.