COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State junior linebacker Ryan Shazier has decided to give up his senior season to make himself available for the NFL draft.
Updated: January 4, 2014, 7:00 PM ET By Austin Ward | ESPN.com COLUMBUS, Ohio — The career of Ohio State’s top defensive player is apparently finished, but it looks as if the team will have one more year with its record-setting quarterback. According to a report by SI.com, which cited a source, the Buckeyes will lose junior linebacker Ryan Shazier to the NFL one year early after the playmaker led the team in tackles for each of the last two seasons. But two-time defending Big Ten offensive player of the year Braxton Miller will be back with the program for his senior season, giving him a chance to become the only player ever to win that award three times and potentially boost his stock as a professional passer. An Ohio State spokesman told ESPN.com that he wasn’t aware of any decision yet for either player. Both juniors had put off making a decision until after the Discover Orange Bowl, which the Buckeyes lost 40-35 on Friday night with an interception by Miller ending any hopes of a late comeback. Miller struggled with his accuracy late in the season, but he had left the door open for skipping his final year of eligibility and pronounced himself ready for the next level during interviews leading up to the matchup against Clemson. “Oh yeah, of course, definitely,” Miller said last month. “Just like I came from high school, coaches are going to get you prepared, get you mentally ready for everything that you need to get ready for. That’s the next step in life.” Miller reportedly won’t be making that jump just yet, but Shazier appears set to move on and capitalize on his high draft stock after a pair of wildly productive seasons at outside linebacker for the Buckeyes. Shazier had a Big Ten-best 134 tackles heading into the Orange Bowl, and his 22.5 tackles for loss were 5.5 more than anybody else in the conference. He had indicated during bowl practices that he was leaning toward returning to school for another year, but there might not be much else for him to prove with the Buckeyes. “I’m just going to talk it over with my family and the coaches and just try to get the best analysis that I can,” Shazier said last month.
January, 2, 2014 Jan 2 3:30 PM ET COLUMBUS, Ohio — The guy with the higher stock indicated he was leaning toward staying. The one with all the uncertainty surrounding him declared himself ready for the next level and seemed to tilt toward the exit.
But with Ryan Shazier perhaps too hot of a commodity to return for another year in college and Braxton Miller at least giving the impression that he’s willing to bet on himself, that combination could be a problem for No. 7 Ohio State. It might leave them without both stars after Friday night’s Discover Orange Bowl and some mighty big shoes to fill when the Buckeyes start turning their attention to the 2014 season and what could be another run at a national title.
+ EnlargeAP Photo/Jay LaPreteAfter a hugely productive season and good evaluations from draft experts, Ryan Shazier might be best served entering the NFL draft.Is the matchup against Clemson the final time the playmaking linebacker and the two-time defending Big Ten player of the year will put on Ohio State uniforms? What impact will those decisions have the Buckeyes moving forward? As both the deadline to declare for the draft and the Discover Orange Bowl both creep up, it’s time to peek into the crystal ball.
After yet another incredibly productive campaign stuffing the stats sheet in every conceivable way, there’s really not much Shazier has left to prove as a college linebacker. He can make tackles anywhere on the field, he’s shown an uncanny ability to time the snap as a blitzer and use his athleticism to make plays in the backfield and he’s consistently delivered timely plays when the Buckeyes have needed them most.
But even with all that on his resume, Shazier publicly called himself “dead-flat in the middle” between staying or going before giving a slight edge to the former during bowl practices.
If he stays: The Buckeyes have been building toward the 2014 season with strong recruiting at every level of the defense, though linebacker still remains the position with the lowest margin for error based on the depth on hand. Having Shazier stick around would keep the entire starting front seven intact heading into next year, which could make it even more difficult to run the ball against Ohio State and take some pressure off what figures to be a young secondary.
If he goes: There will still be plenty of talent and experience on the Ohio State defense, but it will need some fresh faces to develop quickly and fill the void on the outside. Trey Johnson was a prized commodity in the signing class a year ago, and he might need to be ready to live up to his potential next fall.
Shazier’s ESPN.com position rank: No. 4 outside linebacker
Prediction: Enters the NFL draft
Braxton Miller There’s hardly any room to criticize Miller at the competitive level he’s playing at now, and few players have ever accumulated hardware at the rate he’s been on over the last two seasons at quarterback. …
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The athleticism speaks for itself. The numbers make a pretty compelling case as well.
Urban Meyer has spent years looking at blitzers capable of sabotaging an offensive game plan, so he knows a wrecking-ball defender when he sees one on film.
+ EnlargeJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesRyan Shazier is blitzing more and getting more quarterbacks in his grasp.But when the Ohio State coach puts all that together and evaluates star linebacker Ryan Shazier, something isn’t quite adding up. If the junior is among the most effective players in the country at piercing into an opponent’s backfield and racking up tackles for loss, why exactly aren’t the Buckeyes letting him do that as often as possible? “We had that conversation,” Meyer said. “I’m an offensive guy, and I think disruptive defenses are very hard to work against.
“We did have some conversation, because I think Ryan Shazier is one of the best blitzers in America. And he doesn’t blitz very much.”
In the past, there have been some valid reasons for scaling Shazier back and trying to dialing down some of the aggression.
The elite speed he brings to the position is great, and it’s certainly a critical part of his success when Shazier comes around the edge with a quarterback in his sights. But unless he’s heading in the right direction, that natural ability doesn’t do much good. Ohio State first had to teach him the proper way to aim his blitzes.
His instincts are invaluable in tracking down defenders. But even by Shazier’s own estimation, that’s only 40 percent of the battle, and he’s had to spend more time both breaking down tendencies of opponents and watching his own footwork on film to help find a more consistent edge.
And while his nine tackles for loss, five quarterback hurries and two sacks provide a handy argument for turning him loose as often as possible, the Buckeyes obviously can’t just dial up extra pressure on every snap, particularly since their most productive defender has also proven to be successful in coverage with 12 career pass breakups and an interception.
But there is surely a happy medium between an all-out onslaught and a small handful of blitzes, and Shazier obviously won’t mind more chances to add to his Big Ten-leading total of tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
“I’m blitzing as much as the coaches want me to, and I’m going to try to get there every time,” Shazier said. “If the coaches want to keep sending me, I’m going to keep going.
“Whatever the team needs me to do, I’ll do. I love blitzing, and the coaching staff is starting to realize that I like blitzing and we’re going to start being more aggressive, sending more people.”
That ramped-up approach can benefit more than Shazier’s individual numbers, and even when he doesn’t quite get to the passer, he can still have an impact that benefits the rest of the defense.
The Buckeyes have had some communication issues and coverage problems at times in the secondary, with the loss of safety Christian Bryant to a broken ankle only adding to the difficulty. …
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — No. 4 Ohio State’s not perfect – except for its record.
”We don’t want to lose,” linebacker Ryan Shazier said after a closer-than-expected 34-24 win over Iowa on Saturday. ”We know someone might make a mistake but we’ve got his back.”
Guiton Named Walter Camp Player of the Week
For his efforts, Kenny Guiton, who completed 21 of 32 passes for 276 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions (or sacks), was named the Walter Camp Football Foundation’s offensive player of …
Ohio State might have a relatively easy matchup against Buffalo to start the year, but there are a number of individuals who are under a lot of pressure to do well right away. After finishing with an undefeated record a year ago, the Buckeyes come into 2013 with incredibly high expectations. Anything less than a national championship will be considered a disappointment.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — – Enough with the appetizers and the preludes for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Spring workouts, fall camp – they’re all finished. Now it’s on to the real thing.
Next in the sights of the nation’s second-ranked …
Breaking down the Ohio State roster as training camp winds down and the program turns its attention to the opener on Aug. 31 against Buffalo. LINEBACKERS Top of the depth chart: Ryan Shazier on the weak side, Joshua Perry on the strong and Curtis Grant in between them. [+] Enlarge Jamie Sabau/Getty Images Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier led the Buckeyes in tackles, tackles for loss and forced fumbles in 2012. Next in line: There is hardly any depth to speak of on the Ohio State roster at a position that has long been a source of pride for the program, and the numbers are low enough that walk-on Joe Burger could be a valuable part of the rotation. The Buckeyes have high hopes for a pair of freshmen signed in February, and Mike Mitchell has already emerged as a viable second-team option behind Grant. Trey Johnson has been somewhat …
Ohio State is replacing seven starters on defense, but that doesn’t mean the Buckeyes lack star power on that side of the ball. Sports Illustrated backed that up by placing cornerback Bradley Roby and linebacker Ryan Shazier on its Preseason All-America First Team. Both juniors (Roby redshirted in 2010) will provide leadership to a unit that desperately needs it after losing John Simon, Zach Boren and Etienne Sabino to graduation. Roby had a breakout sophomore year, leading the country in passes defended per game (1.73) while tying a single-season school record with 17 pass break-ups in just 12 games. Roby also recorded two interceptions (one of which he returned 41 yards for a touchdown), one sack and one fumble recovery. The lockdown corner was also tremendous in run support, ranking second on the team with 41 solo tackles (and third with 63 tackles overall). Roby has garnered a lot of attention this offseason, being named to the Thorpe, the Bednarik…