I knew Ryan Shazier was going to be a star from the moment I watched his highlight tape from Plantation High School on YouTube. He had not played a single down at Ohio State.
Buckeyes fans are always salivating over their recruits, but this one was particularly special. Ryan's talents weren't overlooked, but they were certainly undervalued because of his position. Anybody who loves football would understand why.
He played defensive end, and much like the best corner on any decent NFL team, he was avoided like the kindergartner who had just soiled his pants.
At 6'3", 205 pounds, his measurables didn't exactly scream future NFL star. The recruiting sites liked him, but they didn't love him. Rivals.com had him as the 14th-best outside linebacker prospect in the country, but when the recruiting site named nine of OSU's recruits to their Rivals Top 250 for 2011, Shazier's name was left off the list.
You might want to note that. Shazier is not the first, and he won't be the last to make us re-evaluate the importance of these so-called "expert recruiting sites."
Something screamed out from the highlight tape—speed! That nasty old word that sportscasters use to describe why Ohio State is losing to an SEC team. The Buckeyes could have six turnovers and lose their best three players to injury, but the reason their team is losing is, always and forever, speed.
We know what speed is. We're football watchers. Ted Ginn Jr., Joey Galloway, Santonio Holmes, Anthony Gonzalez and Chris Gamble had some speed. I know the rest of the football world thinks that Ohio State recruits from a very small Island in the Pacific called Turtle Isle, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Who will lead Ohio State in tackles in 2012?
Shazier has it. Lot's of it.
Mickey Marotti, Ohio State's new strength coach under Urban Meyer, has packed 20 pounds of muscle to Ryan's frame.
Not every college football fan learns much from the Scarlet and Gray pregame, but when Shazier manhandled the 6'4", 235-pound Etienne Sabino in the two-man hamburger drill before the game, Ohio State fans took notice.
Urban Meyer spent most of the spring game within arm's reach of his quarterback, and I think that had less to do with teaching and more to do with Shazier coming off the edge like a silver-bullet-out-of-a-barrell.
Tappy-tap Ryan, tappy-tap. Between Ryan and Ohio State nabbing the two best pass-rushing defensive ends (Washington/Spence) in the entire country this past offseason, expect Ohio State's sack numbers to increase dramatically.
Obviously, Buckeyes fans have huge expectations for the true sophomore. Maybe that has something to do with getting 15 tackles in your first start (Game 11, Penn St.), or maybe it's just watching this kid run sideline to sideline.
It might have been the key blocked punt he had against Wisconsin that led to a touchdown, or it could have been the three tackles he had on a key goal-line stand against Penn State. Either way, keep your eyes on No. 10 for Ohio State this year.
In 2011, Shazier played in all 13 games for OSU (starting the last three). He finished sixth on the defense in tackles (57/37 solo), and threw in three sacks, five tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and a blocked punt.
Shazier's ceiling is high because of that natural speed. If you mix that speed with eight months of strength training from Marotti, you have yourself a defensive Superman.
Let him wear a cape. He doesn't need pads. Does the rest of the country even know we're recruiting intergalactically?
September can't get here soon enough.