FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Senior safety Christian Bryant readied himself on the field, scarlet Buckeye fans erupting in cheers around him Sept. 28, 2013. Instead of taking down intended target, Wisconsin running back James White, Bryant took a hit from teammate sophomore Joshua Perry resulting in a broken ankle.
A broken ankle that meant an end to his season and potentially his college career.
Despite his inability to play, Bryant’s name was never out of discussions within the team. However, attempts to receive a an extra year of play from a medical redshirt as well as rehabbing his broken ankle seem to be thwarted. Coach Urban Meyer announced Thursday at a press conference Bryant would neither play in the Orange Bowl Friday nor have his petition approved by the NCAA for a medical redshirt.
“I believe the appeal was denied. I’m not sure if there’s another one, to come back for another year. He won’t be able to play in this game,” Meyer said. “There was a little bit of outside hope to get him ready, but the injury that he had was pretty severe. I’m not sure if there’s another appeal process left.”
Bryant might not be on the field, but the responsibility he garnered as a leader will be. After his injury, another stepped up on the defense: junior linebacker Ryan Shazier.
The game following his friend’s injury, Shazier donned a No. 2 jersey rather than his traditional No. 10. Changing numbers wasn’t taken light heartedly – Shazier even has “10” tattooed on his arm. From then on, he was playing for someone else as well.
“When Bryant went down, Ryan Shazier assumed a lot of that responsibility, including taking his number, and has done a really magical job at that. He was not a leader a year ago,” Meyer said.
Losing Bryant meant the Buckeyes were losing more than just a pivotal defensive player.
“Christian Bryant was our best player on both sides of the ball, and we lost him and his leadership skill,” Meyer said.
While Bryant’s injury ended his own career. it might have had an impact jump-starting Shazier’s. The latter ended the 2012 season with 115 tackles, Bryant second to him with 71. This year, the linebacker has racked up 134 tackles, according to Ohio State.
“He’s been a very good player this year, but he’s done a nice job leading, leading by example, practicing hard, and even being more vocal. That assumes some of the Christian Bryant responsibility,” Meyer said.
Kickoff between the No. 7 Buckeyes (12-1, 8-1) and the No. 12 Clemson Tigers (10-2, 7-1) is set for 8:30 p.m. Friday at Sun Life Stadium.