Most Important: No. 14

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Last updated: 12/31/2012 6:47 AM

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Football
Most Important Buckeyes: No. 14
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Only a handful of plays were probably responsible for separating Christian Bryant from the top 10 on our postseason countdown of the Most Important Buckeyes for a 2012 season.

Christian Bryant
Photo by Jim Davidson
Christian Bryant

Unfortunately for Bryant, those plays were often boneheaded mistakes that either led to big gains for the opposing offense, or at least turned into big penalties on the Buckeyes. But when Bryant let his play do the talking, instead of his mouth, he was one of the best players on Ohio State’s defense in 2012.

The junior out of Glenville showed dramatic improvements as a football player during his second season as a starting safety on the back end of Ohio State’s defense, and that earned him the 14th spot on our postseason countdown.

What Made Him Important?

Bryant didn’t always make the big play during the 2012 football season, but he was constantly around the ball and was one of the most active players on the OSU defense all season long. With C.J. Barnett battling an ankle injury for much of the season, Bryant brought a stability to the back end of the defense, even though he can often be a little unstable in the heat of battle.

Christian Bryant
Photo by Dan Harker
Christian Bryant

The 5-10, 190-pound Bryant brings a physical presence to the field every time he takes the field. He needs to do a better job wrapping up on ball-carriers, but few players in the Big Ten have racked up more tackles over the last two seasons, particularly in the secondary.

Bryant finished third on the team with 68 tackles last year as a sophomore, and he was second behind Ryan Shazier with 71 total stops in 2012. He forced two fumbles, had an interception and finished second on the team and sixth in the Big Ten with 13 passes defended.

He consistently graded out with a winning performance from the coaches, often receiving the highest grade of anyone in the secondary. He had more production points than anyone in the back seven other than Shazier and Bradley Roby.

What Would The Buckeyes Have Done Without Him?

Without Bryant, the Buckeyes could have been in some trouble on the back end of their defense in 2012. When Barnett went down with the ankle injury, Luke Fickell was forced to use senior Orhian Johnson on the back end alongside Bryant.

That wasn’t a huge problem, because Johnson is a former starter with plenty of experience, but without Bryant it would have gotten very interesting. Oft-injured junior Corey Brown played some “Star” in the nickel defense, while senior Zach Domicone even had to step in and play a few snaps at safety.

Freshman De’van Bogard was coming on strong before he suffered a devastating knee injury that knocked him out for the season, and Ohio State probably would have had to look at someone like Ron Tanner at the safety spot if Bryant wasn’t out there every week for the Buckeyes in 2012.

How Does It Compare to Our Preseason Expectations?

Actually, we pretty much nailed this one. While we were all over the board with the first give guys on our postseason countdown – most of them weren’t even on our Top 20 countdown before the season – but we had Bryant almost exactly where he ended up as a junior in 2012.

The Cleveland product was No. 16 on our countdown heading into the season, and surpassed that mark by the slimmest of margins. He was incredible at times, and frustrating at other times. He made some big hits in some big moments, and then let guys bounce right off him when he forget to wrap up his arms around the ball-carrier.

Most importantly, Bryant was better as a junior than he was as a sophomore. He seems like he’s maybe starting to turn the corner with his maturity, but the Buckeyes hope he never loses his energy and excitement on the field. This team will need that next season, but they could do without the personal fouls.

Related Articles:

No. 15 Etienne Sabino
No. 16 Andrew Norwell
No. 17 Travis Howard
No. 18 C.J. Barnett
No. 19 Garrett Goebel
No. 20 Kenny Guiton

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