[Editor’s Note: From now until Big Ten Media Days, we’ll be reaching into The-Ozone’s 23 years worth of archives and each day we will be posting a story from yesteryear. Big moments, small moments, big games, bigger games, and the random recruiting updates about guys you haven’t thought about in a decade or two.]
December 17, 2010 | Old pal Brandon Castel (@BCastOhio) brought us this story way back when. Ryan Shazier was committed to Florida, but then Urban Meyer stepped down from the Gators, causing Shazier to look around. Jim Tressel immediately stepped in, though would then step down before Shazier ever suited up for the Buckeyes. One year later, Shazier would get his initial wish granted, as he got to play for Urban Meyer. Shazier was an all-time great Ohio State Buckeye, earning First-Team All-American status in 2013, and First-Team All-B1G in 2012 and 2013. His 143 tackles in 2013 were the most at Ohio State since Chris Spielman’s 156 in 1987. Shazier’s 101 solo tackles that season were second-most in school history, tying Tom Cousineau in 1978, and just four behind Spielman’s school record of 105. — TG
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was so busy recruiting this month, he hadn’t even had time to properly scout Arkansas when he met with the media this past Monday for the team’s Sugar Bowl media day.
All that hard work paid off for Tressel and his coaching staff on Friday, as the Buckeyes landed a much-needed commitment from 4-star linebacker Ryan Shazier.
The Plantation, Fla. native had committed to play for the hometown Gators back in June, but the sudden retirement of Florida coach Urban Meyer opened the door for Shazier to look at making a switch.
“To me it’s kind of crazy because I thought everything was okay there and everything was fine,” Shazier told GaitorBait.net earlier this week.
“I was committed and I had everything planned out. Everything was set. Then out of nowhere it’s not okay.”
When Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp took the job in Gainesville, he and area recruiter Zach Azzanni popped in to see Shazier at his high school. He also received a visit from LSU coach Les Miles and his staff, but it was Tressel who made the biggest impression.
In town to visit Shazier’s teammate Jeremy Cash, a safety who was already committed to play for the Buckeyes, Tressel made it very clear how important Shazier could be for the Buckeyes and how well he might fit in at Ohio State.
Shazier eventually visited Columbus with his dad this week and it didn’t take long for him to pull the trigger, officially making the switch Friday evening. He will join his high school teammate Cash as an early enrollee in January, but to end the story there doesn’t do justice to just how big this commitment was for the Buckeyes.
One of the top-rated outside linebackers in the country, Shazier would have been a big get for anyone. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder was rated as the No. 4 outside linebacker by ESPN, No. 8 by Scout.com and No. 12 by Rivals.com.
As the 19th player in Ohio State’s class of 2011, Shazier is hardly a building-block, but the Under Armour All-American fills a critical need for the Buckeyes. Although the focus of the class is clearly to build up the offensive and defensive lines, the star of the class is sure to be quarterback Braxton Miller.
The one thing this class lacked, however, was an elite-level linebacker. Maryland product Conner Crowell is a solid player with a good list of offers, including Penn State, Stanford, North Carolina and West Virginia, but he badly injured his ankle in the state playoffs.
Either way, Crowell isn’t on the same level athletically is Shazier. Few are. A pass-rushing specialist who had 19 sacks as a junior, Shazier would be a perfect fit for Ohio State’s Leo position, or at the very least, an outside linebacker spot. He has a blazing first step and a surprising bull-rush for a kid as long and lean as he is.
Getting a player of this caliber this late in the game is big for Tressel, who hasn’t always had the best success landing high-profile kids late in the process (other than Glenville kids of course). Tressel tends to focus a lot of attention on the kids who are interested in being Buckeyes right from the start, but making a strong push for Shazier when he came available was the right move.
Not only does it help fill a void in the class, it also helps to offset the fact Ohio State has missed on the top linebacker in the state of Ohio the last two seasons. First it was Lakota West’s Jordan Hicks opting for Texas over Ohio State in the class of 2010 and then this year Springfield’s Trey DePriest went with Alabama over the Buckeyes.
Shazier wasn’t rated quite as highly as either Hicks or DePriest, but he’s a Buckeye, and that’s all that matters to Tressel.
Ryan Shazier on Signing Day 2011 on Dealing With the Ohio Cold