Ohio State junior linebacker Ryan Shazier has decided to forego his senior season with the Buckeyes in 2014 in order to pursue his dream of playing in the National Football League.
"Playing in the NFL is something that I have been dreaming about since my days in pee-wee football," said Shazier, a 29-game starter for the Buckeyes who has led the team in tackles for the past two seasons. "I just feel that now is the perfect time for me."
Since making his first start as a true freshman in the 2011 season's 11th game vs. Penn State, Shazier, a 6-2, 230-pounder from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has been a defensive force for the Buckeyes. Consider:
"The coaches have really helped me to grow into the player I am today," Shazier said. "Coach Meyer, Coach Fickell and all of the coaches at Ohio State have been amazing. I have great relationships with them and I feel as if all of them have been there for me. I am so blessed to have had them as my coaches."
Shazier was named a first-team Associated Press All-American this past season, all-Big Ten Conference (coaches and media), a Butkus Award finalist and Bednarik and Lott award semifinalist. USA Today, ESPN.com and Sports Illustrated also named him a first-team All-American after a campaign in which he tied Big Ten records with three conference defensive player of the week honors and with five for his career. He was twice named the Lott IMPACT Trophy national player of the week.
His 143 tackles this season rank sixth nationally and in a tie for 13th on the Ohio State single season charts. Included was a 20-tackle game vs. Indiana in which he tied school records for solo tackles (16) and tackles-for-loss (5).
Shazier also had 101 solo tackles this season to rank third nationally. It was the third-highest total in school history behind Tom Cousineau's 142 in 1978 and Chris Spielman's 105 in 1986. His 315 career tackles rank 14th in school history.
Additionally, Shazier's 22.5 tackles-for-loss this year rank third at Ohio State (and third nationally) and his 44.5 career TFLs rank sixth all-time at Ohio State.
Regarding his time at Ohio State, Shazier said it was all about relationships.
"I feel like my three years at Ohio State were about great relationships with coaches, my teammates and Buckeye Nation," Shazier said. "Playing here was an amazing experience.
"And it is really hard to explain the brotherhood I have with my teammates…with Braxton, Curtis Grant and Doran Grant…Christian Bryant…Chase Farris…all the guys. They took care of me and were always there for me and I feel like we will be brothers for the rest of our lives. And I want to thank them for what they've done and for always being there for me. They know I'll always be there for them."