Friday, February 4, 2011


Ryan Shazier
(The Buckeye Times/Joe Stueve)
COLUMBUS — When Under Armour All-American linebacker Ryan Shazier decided that he was going to enroll at Ohio State early, the native of Plantation, Florida didn't truly know what he was getting himself into.

No, it wasn't the great competition at linebacker or the veteran Buckeye players who were intimidating the freshman when he arrived on campus early last month. It was mother nature who had the 6-foot-2, 210-pound backer shaking in his shoes.

"It's been a little tough," Shazier smiled. "Down where I'm from I was talking to everybody and it's like 75 degrees, and I remember one day it was like negative-2 here, so I was like, man, I just got to keep a jacket on or stay indoors."

It looks like Shazier is realizing why teams in the Southeastern Conference never ventures too far from the south when playing outside of their league.

"Ryan is one of those guys — like Coach (Jim) Tressel always says — who comes from south Florida to join us in January and weren't really sure what they were getting themselves into," OSU co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said. "My first meeting with (Ryan) came in the office and he had a blister or scab at the bottom of his nose. I said I don't think he has wiped his nose so many times in the last 16 years of his life.

"So I think he's adjusting a little bit to some of the weather."

Shazier said being able to come into Ohio State early with four other freshman players — Braxton Miller, Joel Hale, Jeff Heuerman and high school teammate Jeremy Cash — has helped him battle the elements ... in a manner of speaking.

"I've got four good guys here with me, they're just helping me stay warm," Shazier said, before busting out in laughter when he realized how he had phrased his statement. "Well, not like that ... not like that. They just make me feel at home (as he continued to laugh harder)."

Of course, no matter how cold it has been or how much snow and ice has formed on campus, Shazier said he knows he has made the right decision to play at Ohio State. Even when he had committed to Florida — prior to the resignation of head coach Urban Meyer — the star linebacker had visions of Columbus dancing in his head.

"Ohio State was always on my mind," Shazier said. "Even when I was committed to Florida I was giving my mom and dad clues, like right now I don't feel Florida is the right place and at the end of the day I didn't think I was going to go there. When the situation opened up, I just took advantage of it.

"I felt this was the best place after I took the rest of my visits. Once I came here and spent time with the rest of the players, met all of the coaches and everything, it just felt like home."

One of the big things that attracted Shazier to Ohio State is their great tradition of developing linebackers.

"That was a big selling point to me," Shazier said. "The tradition that they have and the linebackers and everything. And the great coach Coach Fickell is ... almost everybody who started for him went to the NFL. I knew once I came here early that I would have a good chance of playing, but nothing's guaranteed. I'll be learning under great players, too, like (Andrew) Sweat and (Etienne) Sabino and everything. The tradition is amazing."

Fickell said that Shazier — who recorded 19.5 sacks as a senior at Plantation (35.5 career) — has the versatility and motor to carry on the tradition of great Ohio State linebackers.

"Ryan's a kid that we've known about for quite awhile," Fickell said. "He's a great young man. He played most of his high school career with his hand on the ground. He's more of a pass rush guy, so there'll be a little more to learn. Even in the all-star games that he played, he had to learn to play more of a stand up position.

"But again, Ryan's a kid who has great versatility for us and a great motor. We saw that when we went to Florida and watched him practice in the spring. He's a great young man. Obviously he's here in January and learning a lot being around all the guys and has done a great job picking up some of the things we've done."

Shazier said that the transition from having a hand down to standing up hasn't been as difficult as people think.

"The adjustment hasn't been as hard as people make it seem," Shazier said. "I have actually been practicing on it during the season, even though I was at D-end. I was always practicing with my coaches or by myself, the drops and my stance and the reads.

"I've been practicing on it, so it's not as hard as people made it seem. And then I showed I could do it in the (Under Armour) all-American game, and people seen it, too."

Shazier may still be getting used to the new technique and Ohio's freezing weather, but I have a good feeling that by the time fall arrives, the only ones who'll be shaking in their shoes will be opposing quarterbacks.