Bryant's Football Future Still Cloudy
By Rob Ogden
Ohio State senior safety Christian Bryant, who broke his ankle during Ohio State's Sept. 28 win over Wisconsin, said Monday that he's still not sure if he'll be able to play in a bowl or receive a medical redshirt.
Photo by Jim Davidson
"It's been brought up a few times, but right now I'm still kind of unsure about what can happen," Bryant said with his left ankle firmly wrapped and a pair of crutches laying beside him. "It's still up in the air."
Bryant said he thinks the team plans to file an appeal hoping to earn him a fifth year of eligibility.
In order to receive a medical redshirt, the NCAA manual states that a player must have played in no more than 30 percent of the season, excluding a bowl game. By playing in five of likely 13 games, Bryant does not meet that criteria.
The Buckeyes could file for a hardship waiver, which would then leave it up to a committee to decide if Bryant should be granted a redshirt even though his case doesn't comply with NCAA bylaws.
Even if Bryant was granted a fifth year, he's not sure he would take it.
"I really haven't thought about it too much, but there's pros and cons with both coming back next year or just going to the league," Bryant said. "There's still some things I need to think about, and talk about with my family and coaches."
Bryant said he hopes to know his options before the bowl game.
Co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers said he's unsure if Bryant could make it back in time for a bowl game, but he added that Bryant is still a big part of the team even when he's not on the field.
"He's still the spark plug on our defense. He has a tremendous value," Withers said. "He's still the guy that everybody on that defense looks to. He's that guys that if something isn't going good, he's gonna let everybody know that it isn't going good and why it isn't going good."
Being taken out of that role was never something that crossed Bryant's mind.
"It wasn't gonna be a question about me remaining involved," Bryant said. "I'm in meetings, I'm not really in practice as much but as soon as I progress to a boot I should be out in practice. But I'm in rehab and in the training room every day."
Bryant's No. 2 has stayed involved, as well.
With the safety sidelined, junior linebacker Ryan Shazier asked Bryant if he could wear his number as a tribute.
Bryant didn't think twice about his answer.
"That means the world to me," he said. "When Ryan came up to me about a week later, I really didn't hesitate in telling him yes. With him wearing my number I feel like everyone knows that my spirit is still out on the field even though I'm not physically out there."
Bryant added that his No. 2 might have even made Shazier better.
"I think it pushed him a little bit just knowing that he had to be out there making plays for me and him. You know how many plays I'd be out there making," he said with a smile.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Bryant called the injury a "fluke", and said it happened when linebacker Joshua Perry rolled on his ankle after making a tackle on the penultimate play of the Wisconsin game.
At first, he said, he thought it was just a sprain, but was devastated when he heard the news.
"As soon as it happened, my mind was racing, because I couldn't understand why it happened," he said. "My emotions were racing for about a week. But everybody stood by me and was positive about the whole situation. With positive people around me, influencing me, I had no choice but to be positive about the whole situation."
While the rest of his classmates run out of Ohio Stadium's tunnel for one last time Saturday, Bryant will hobble out with his crutches.
Knowing he might never play another collegiate game, Bryant said the day will be an emotional one.
"I couldn't even begin to understand the feelings he probably has because he's such a competitor," senior left tackle Jack Mewhort said. "It's gonna be emotional for all of us knowing he wants to be out there with us and he can't. We appreciate him and we love him and I know we'll be thinking about him."
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