Christian Bryant is Right Where He Belongs
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — One of the changes to the defense against Colorado was the insertion of Christian Bryant into the starting lineup. He started the game at safety, and then moved down to the star position on passing downs.
Photo by Jim Davidson
It was well-received by Bryant, who responded by leading the team with six tackles. He also led the defense in excitement generated.
“I go out there on the field and I try to hype everybody up,” said the true sophomore from Cleveland.
“That's what I do. I try to get the crowd involved. I try to talk to the players on the sideline. We've got to put some intensity into the game. That's what I do.”
Bryant getting the starting nod didn't come as much of a surprise to those who have seen him play in practice in his one-plus seasons. He has a nose for the ball and despite being just 5-9 and 190 pounds, he isn't afraid to take on much larger foes.
“When I talk about Christian, I talk about a football player," said safeties coach Paul Haynes back in August.
"I think he's just a raw, natural, instinctive football player. Kind of like Jermale Hines was. He has a knack for the ball, we've just got to make sure that he continues to play low and make sure he becomes a student of the game.”
The comparison to Hines goes well beyond the fact that both went to Cleveland Glenville. Like Hines, Bryant is a disruptor, and he's versatile.
He came to Ohio State as one of the top cornerback recruits in the nation, and was quickly moved to safety once his first camp started because the staff wanted to get him on the field as quickly as possible.
He brings those cornerback coverage skills with him when he slides into the slot on passing downs in order to cover receivers one on one.
It's the same thing that another former Glenville Tarblooder used to do back in 2005. Donte Whitner would start the game at strong safety and then slide down into the slot on passing downs and either cover the slot receiver, or destroy various screen plays that came his way (and even some that didn't).
That's the same type of impact that the coaches want to see out of Bryant as well. On a defense that is looking for playmakers, Christian Bryant seems like a good bet.
“Christian is a crazy player,” said Travis Howard.
“I love the way he plays. He's aggressive. He comes up and hits. He's going to talk a little trash. He's just the all-around player that we need. He's a big-time playmaker for us as you can see.”
“He's been good in practice and we feel like he's played a little bit better,” said Jim Heacock of the staff's decision to give Bryant the starting nod.
“We're going to play the best players, whoever performs best. That's just the way we've been and the way we're going to continue to be. We're going to continue to give a lot of guys opportunities and we're going to roll a lot of guys through, but when it comes down to critical situations we're going to have our best players on the field.”
To say that this was a long time coming for Bryant would probably be a misnomer considering he just played in his eleventh career game this past Saturday.
He started against the Hoosiers last season, but that was in an emergency situation. There is no emergency now, and don't expect Bryant to let this starting spot leave his grasp.
“Just finally getting a starting job is great,” Bryant said.
“Me and Coach Haynes talked about it and he said you just gotta go out there and make plays to solidify it. And I think I had a pretty good game.”
When asked what his feelings were about going into the Colorado game as the starter, he didn't hesitate to answer.
“Pride. That was something that I wanted before the season was over. I stepped in today, started, and did a pretty good job.”
“Me and C.J. we talk before every game. We just tell eachother that we have to go out here and we have to ball. We've got to do exactly what we've been doing all week in practice, and that's make plays. And that's what we're trying to do.”
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