With some type of normalcy returning to the town where I live, I should focus my attention on getting back on track in completing the fourth edition of this now 24-part series titled Better Know A Buckeye. I will also be missing two weeks in June1, so these might start coming out in rapid succession. I still got time.
This fourth installment covers Ryan Shazier, a linebacker prospect from the same Plantation High School as our third profile, Jeremy Cash. With Cash so high on Ohio State for so long, Ohio State’s coaching staff may have hoped that would give them some leverage on Shazier, who is the much higher profile recruit. Suitors came from all walks of college football and, as we know, it was the Gators who initially got him. Urban Meyer’s second retirement led Shazier to reopen his recruitment, leading to a nice late addition to the recruiting class. His two recruitments are discussed here and other essential factors to better knowing Ryan Shazier are also included. It follows the usual format, including the More You Know graphic.
High School: Plantation HS; Plantation, FL
His Recruitment: If Ryan Shazier wanted a rather ho-hum recruitment, he probably should not have been as eye-dropping a candidate for major college football offers. He had a stellar junior season despite missing two games. Therein, he finished with 87 tackles, 10 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, a blocked kick and a defensive touchdown. Suitors came early, and they came often. By February 2010, he already had offers from programs like Florida State, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Oklahoma and South Carolina. Scholarship offers ultimately came from prestigious programs like Alabama, Florida, LSU, Nebraska, GERG’s Michigan2 and USC. Though expressing a preliminary interest in committing before his senior season, Shazier had everyone equal through March. Indeed, it was probably more exciting to watch the offers pile up.
Ohio State did finally offer Shazier in February, but it was not the program that really caught Shazier’s eye. That was Urban Meyer’s Gators. He made a trip to Florida’s spring game and felt that he really fit in. He praised the spirited fandom at Florida, noting Florida’s fanbase was really digging what amounts to a glorified practice session. The more he talked about what he wanted, the more it sounded like he was talking about the Florida Gators. He wanted coaching stability and to be comfortable in the area where he would reside. Further, it looked like distance would be a factor and that would be difficult for Ohio State to compensate vis-a-vis Shazier. As he started to pare down his list, Ohio State remained in his top five. He was always high on Ohio State. However, Florida was always in it as well, and Shazier rather liked the idea of his father — a local pastor — seeing his games on Saturday and returning to his sermons on Sunday.
His Commitment: Shazier did not surprise many people when he became Florida’s eighth commitment in its 2011 class. Sure, we wanted him and we had a decent chance. However if he admirably wanted to conclude his recruitment before his senior season, then Ohio State could not play its trump card of an official visit for a marquee home game (Miami in 2010, at least). Meanwhile, Florida and Urban Meyer’s staff appeared to have everything Shazier would have wanted. They just replaced a defensive coordinator (Charlie Strong, who took the head coaching position at Louisville), but new hires to the staff under a firmly established head coach like Urban Meyer gave Shazier a pretty strong indication of what to expect in Gainesville for the next four years. Shazier liked it. His family liked it. It seemed like the best decision to make at the time.
His Recruitment, Part Deux: …And then, Urban Meyer retired again. Though his second go-around with retirement, Meyer’s announcement3 in early December put everything in flux for the Gators’ program. On the recruiting front, perhaps no other program in college football was more excited than Ohio State. This might be odd. Ohio State and Florida do not share the same conference and they don’t interact much beyond one encounter in January 2007.4 On the recruiting front, Ohio State makes only very careful incursions into the Sunshine State for talent, aware that the Big Three (and Florida especially) have more leverage over the higher profile recruits. Yet, Ohio State recruitniks felt that the immediate beneficiary of Urban’s retirement was not Penn State (its bowl opponent), or its regional and conference rivals, but rather the Buckeyes who could use the opportunity to snatch Ryan Shazier.
One such advantage Ohio State had was that they could act fast. They needed to act fast. If Shazier was going to switch his verbal commitment, he would need to do it in a week, maybe a week and a half. He would have to handle his various end of the year academics that would allow him to enroll in college in January, while preparing for the Under Armour All-American Bowl and monitoring who would replace Urban Meyer in Gainesville and what that would mean for his projected position in the program. So, it was nice that Shazier had a helpful heuristic in Ohio State. That is, he already knew what Ohio State had to offer and long had interest in them, even while committed to Florida. Ohio State also had everything he liked about Florida, minus the distance factor. But any decommitment from Florida would mean distance could no longer be much of a factor. His other option he strongly considered at this time was Louisiana State, a good 15 hour drive away.
Shazier, shocked at Urban Meyer’s retirement, had already planned to tag along with Jeremy Cash on Cash’s official visit. Not having decommitted, Shazier admitted that he and his family were going to have talk this over. He visited LSU first, getting Les Miles’ pitch about the program, which may have included achieving nirvana through eating stadium grass. Though Florida did act quickly by luring Will Muschamp to Gainesville within days of Urban’s retirement, Shazier had little familiarity with Muschamp. Meanwhile, Ohio State continued coming strong, including an in-house visit from Tressel. Shortly thereafter, Shazier decided to make the switch.
His Commitment, Part Deux: Ohio State benefited from the turnover in Gainesville by plucking one of the Gators’ stars in the 2011 recruiting class. Ohio State was still preparing for the Sugar Bowl against the ArKansas Razorbacks, but managed to add to the linebacker picture in 2011 with Shazier’s commitment. The commitment was Ohio State’s second linebacker in the 2011 recruiting class, after Conner Crowell. Ejuan Price became the third linebacker. Marquee linebacker Curtis Grant, from Virginia, is one of the crown jewels of the class.
Where He Excels: These are always weird debates to try to settle in recruiting, but I’m sure someone will make the claim — and argue forcefully — that Shazier is the best athlete in the class. It’s awe-inspiring seeing some of the things he is capable of doing. He’s fast for the position. Always, always question 40 times under these circumstances, but he’s been clocked in the 4.4s before and again. This complements other outstanding measurables. His name is routinely connected to “best [this and that]” awards given at various combines. For example, a sophomore Ryan Shazier had the best long jump at a National Underclassmen Combine in Miami. Athletically, he’s as good as it gets.
For a lighter, thinner defensive end in high school, Shazier displayed a remarkable willingness to play inside. I see more footage of high schoolers playing the same position who hope to either bullrush a lineman that they can simply overpower, or run around said lineman that they could beat comfortably in a foot race. Shazier wanted the added degree of difficulty and, as you will see in footage, had the awareness to disengage from his blocker and take the inside move. It allowed him a kill shot on an unsuspecting quarterback that thought he was blocked.
Make no mistake. This guy is a ringer.
Must Work On: Shazier is making a transition from defensive end to linebacker. While all reports of a sophomore and junior Shazier were glowing, many expressed a curiosity about where he would play in college. No doubt, they knew he would play in college, but a young Shazier, who measured at around 6’0 and 200lbs, could have developed into either a conventional defensive end, a weakside or even stand-up defensive end, or a linebacker. Most (but not all) saw him as a linebacker and that is where he will play at Ohio State. Linebackers are busier pre-snap than down linemen, so the extent of this transition should not be downplayed.
Playing linebacker means his strength disadvantage is mostly neutralized. You will not find many 200lb defensive linemen at this level of football. Still, Shazier will need to get bigger and improve his strength. Though glowing of other aspects of his game, you will not see “reps” figures that are off the chart for Shazier. Fifteen to twenty pounds is the target range for so-called “good weight” that you will hear discussed in the context of a college football strength and condition program. Fortunately, Eric Lichter’s group, maligned around 2007 and 2008, appear to be making strides toward a stellar reputation in this important aspect. Consider this a minor strike against Shazier, but it is always important to note that added mass can bring down speed. We hope this does not happen.
Redshirt? If he were a summer enrollee, I would be about 95% comfortable predicting that he redshirts. Since he has been in Columbus since January and has looked pretty good even in the spring game, I think he will see the field on special teams in 2011. This could go either way, but I think we will find something for him to do in the field of play this fall.
Highlights: Junior year.
- High school teammate is Jeremy Cash, but you already know that.
- Father is Vernon Shazier who, among other things, is an NFL team chaplain with the Miami Dolphins. He has an uncle who is a coach on Prairie View A&M’s staff (they extended a courtesy offer).
- It might seem odd, but Shazier considered a scholarship offer from, wait for it… waaaaait for it, Baylor. Yes, Baylor. Shazier’s dad holds a degree from Baylor University and Shazier lived in Waco for three years.
- Shazier was an Under-Armour All-American, as were Braxton Miller, Steve Miller Band, and Doran Grant. Rivals.com honored Shazier as the “most surprising”, noting:
A stand-up defensive end during his high school career, Shazier easily made the transition to outside linebacker and racked up numerous tackles in the game.
- Though not formally declared for a major, every indication given by Shazier, and of Shazier, is that he is really interested in becoming a sportscaster or a broadcast journalist in his life outside of football. Listen to him talk and you’ll hear how he’s thinking about it, even when he’s not talking about it.
- Since Shazier was enrolled in January, he took part in Ohio State’s signing day press conference. Here he is talking at the podium, with a bit of a “no homo” moment. Here he is talking after the ceremony. Both videos come via Eleven Warriors‘ Alex (I think).
- Talking about his official visit to Florida for the Kentucky game. Yes, he was still committed to Florida for this, but it’s Ryan in his own words.
- Twitter: @shazier10ryan
I’ll consider Ryan Shazier better known now. It seems he survived the shell-shock of a bitter Midwestern winter, at least with respect to balmy south Florida winters.
Of course, let’s put him on the board.
|Class of 2011|
|Name||Position||Hometown||Better Known?||Name||Position||Hometown||Better Known?|
|Michael Bennett||DT||Centerville, OH||Bryce Haynes||LS||Cumming, GA|
|Brian Bobek||OL||Palatine, IL||Jeff Heuerman||TE||Naples, FL||02.13|
|Tommy Brown||OL||Arkon, OH||Cardale Jones||QB||Cleveland, OH|
|Chris Carter, Jr||OL||Cleveland, OH||Braxton Miller||QB||Huber Heights, OH|
|Jeremy Cash||DB||Plantation, FL||04.18||Steve Miller||DE||Swingtown, OH|
|Conner Crowell||LB||Waldorf, MD||Ejuan Price||LB||Pittsburgh, PA|
|Chase Farris||DL||Elyria, OH||Ryan Shazier||LB||Plantation, FL||05.10|
|DerJuan “PeeWee” Gambrell||DB||Toledo, OH||Devin Smith||WR||Massillon, OH|
|Curtis Grant||LB||Richmond, VA||Evan Spencer||WR||Vernon Hills, IL|
|Doran Grant||DB||Akron, OH||Ron Tanner||DB||Columbus, OH||03.29|
|Joel Hale||DT||Greenwood, IN||Antonio Underwood||OL||Shaker Heights, OH|
|Kenny Hayes||DE||Toledo, OH||Nick Vannett||TE||Westerville, OH|