20 Most Important: No. 7

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Last updated: 08/17/2012 0:58 AM

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Football
Most Important Buckeyes: No. 7

By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS — Looking back at No. 8 on our countdown of the Top 20 Most Important Buckeyes for 2012, one could argue no player is more important to Ohio State’s success on defense than Curtis Grant.

Ryan Shazier
Photo by Jim Davidson
Ryan Shazier

Most great OSU defenses throughout the years have started in the middle, with a guys like Chris Spielman, Andy Katzenmoyer, Matt Wilhelm, James Laurinaitis and Brian Rolle.

This team needs Grant to be a leader, but that doesn’t necessarily make him more important than classmate Ryan Shazier, who comes in at No. 7 on our countdown.

What Makes Him Important

Shazier may not play a position as critical to the leadership of the defense as Grant, but there is no mistaking the importance of the Will linebacker spot in Luke Fickell’s defense. It is “the spot” on the defense for playmakers—think A.J. Hawk—and Shazier is going to be exactly that for the Buckeyes in 2012.

In his first career start at Will last fall, Shazier racked up 15 tackles against Penn State. He played hurt against Michigan, and really wasn’t healthy for the bowl game against Florida, but Shazier should be Ohio State’s best linebacker this season.

He has gained 25 pounds of muscle since he arrived last offseason, and is still probably one of the fastest players on the defense. He’s incredibly instinctual, which is why he was able to step in and play so well as a freshman last November, and the Buckeyes are counting on him to have a big season.

What Can Be Expected Of Him

Ryan Shazier
Photo by Jim Davidson
Ryan Shazier

If he’s as a good as advertized, Shazier should have no problem leading the team in tackles this season. Andrew Sweat nearly did it a year ago playing Will linebacker, and he was battling injuries and concussions throughout much of the season.

A healthy Shazier could be one of the scariest things the Big Ten has seen from Ohio State’s defense in a couple years. The Buckeyes know they did not perform up standard last year, especially at the linebacker spot.

That has to change in 2012, and it should, with Shazier leading the way. Right now, it’s mostly potential, but if he lives up to it, we could be talking about the sophomore from Florida as one of the top linebackers in the conference by season’s end. 

What Would the Buckeyes Do Without Him

Good question. What would Ohio State do without any of their three projected starters this season? After Shazier, Grant and Etienne Sabino, it’s all freshmen in the two-deep, along with walk-on Steward Smith.

The addition of guys like Camren Williams, David Perkins and Jamal Marcus has given the Buckeyes some depth to go along with Conner Crowell, Luke Roberts and Josh Perry, but none of those guys are ready to replace Shazier.

Perkins is the guy who would get the first shot at Will if something happened to No. 10, but Fickell is praying every night that he has a healthy Shazier for the entire 2012 campaign.

Related Articles:

Most Important: No. 8 Curtis Grant

Most Important: No. 9 Jake Stoneburner

Most Important: No. 10 Bradley Roby

Most Important: No. 11 Zach Boren

Most Important: No. 12 C.J. Barnett

Most Important: No. 13 Devin Smith

Most Important: No. 14 Corey Brown

Most Important: No. 15 Jordan Hall

Most Important: No. 16 Christian Bryant

Most Important: No. 17 Reid Fragel

Most Important: No. 18 Ben Buchanan

Most Important: No. 19 Michael Bennett

Most Important: No. 20 Drew Basil

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