A Look Back at Ryan Shazier's Ohio State Career in the Wake of His Injury

By Kevin Harrish on December 10, 2017 at 8:15 am
Ryan Shazier.
Ohio State Athletics

Ike Kelley, Randy Gradishar, Tom Cousineau, Marcus Marek, Pepper Johnson, Chris Spielman, Steve Tovar, Andy Katzenmoyer, Na'il Diggs, Matt Wilhelm, A.J. Hawk, James Laurinaitis

That's the group of Ohio State All-American linebackers which Ryan Shazier belongs. And of that star-studded, legendary group, he might even be the best.

Playing for an inglorious three years, which included a losing season, a bowl ban and a a season that didn't quite live up to expectations, Shazier racked up the school's sixth-most solo tackles (208) and tackles-for-loss (44.5), and was on pace to set school records in both had he chose to return for his senior season.

His dominance began as a freshman. The Buckeyes were in need of linebackers, and thankfully they had a monster freshman on the roster. Shazier played all 13 games as a true freshman and eventually earned a starting role, and promptly recorded 15 tackles in his frist career start. 

By the end of his freshman season, Shazier had racked up 57 total tackles – the most of any Ohio State true freshman in 15 years. During the next two seasons, he topped his freshman numbers by putting up numbers comparable to better than Heisman candidate Manti Te'o's 2012 stats.

Shazier vs Te'o
Player Solo Ass. Total TFL Sacks INTs PD FF TD
2012 – Manti Te'o 55 58 113 5.5 1.5 7 11 0 0
2012 – Ryan Shazier 70 45 115 17 5 1 12 3 1
2013 – Ryan Shazier 102 42 144 23.5 7 0 4 4 0

His sophomore season, Shazier ranked in the top-10 in the Big Ten in five different defensive categories. He led the Big Ten with 17 tackles-for-loss, finished second with 115 total tackles, ranked fourth in forced fumbles (3), seventh in quarterback sacks (5.0) and eighth in passes defended (12).

And it wasn't just numbers, Shazier was a game changer. He had a game-breaking pick-six against Penn State to go with an eight-tackle and two sack performance. Two weeks later, he forced a huge fumble on a goal line stand against Wisconsin, which ultimately proved pivotal in sending the game to overtime.


Shazier capped his Buckeye career with an All-American junior season. He finished the season ranked third nationally in tackles-for-loss (22.5) and second in solo tackles with 101 – both totals are third-most in Ohio State history. He led the Big Ten with 143 total tackles and had a 20-tackle performance against Indiana that tied school records for solo tackles (16) and tackles-for-loss (5).

Looking back, Shazier quietly had one of the best Buckeye careers of any Ohio State linebacker ever. He never took home any national awards and didn't win a national title, or even a postseason game for that matter.

But something tells me that doesn't matter to Shazier, as evidenced by this incredible thread on the Buckeye great.

Ryan Shazier loves football. That's been evident his entire career – high school, college and the NFL. Unfortunately, the game gives, and it takes away.

On Monday, Shazier suffered an injury that required him to undergo spinal stabilization surgery, at the very least putting his playing career in jeopardy. Shazier – like current Buckeye players – knew and accepted the risk when he stepped on the football field on Monday night, but that doesn't make what happened any less awful.

Shazier's Steelers teammates have already dedicated their upcoming games to him and will be rocking custom cleats on Sunday to pay tribute, and support for the former Buckeye has been flowing in from all over the social-media world this week.

There's still a lot of uncertainty surrounding Shazier's condition, but one thing we can be certain about is that regardless of circumstances, he's going to attack the situation with unrivaled tenacity and unrealistic positivity – cause that's just what he does.

Ohio State fans wishing to send Shazier well wishes may do so by sending them to:

Ryan Shazier
c/o Buckeye Cruise for Cancer
4890 Blazer Pkwy
Dublin, OH 43017

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