Approximately 2.5 years ago, an undersized linebacker from Plantation, Florida decided to make a commitment to stay in his hometown to play football for the University of Florida. In spite of being somewhat undersized at 205-pounds, he was still a 4-star recruit with an enormous upside because of the intangibles he possessed.
Unquestionably, Ohio State was on the short list of possible schools and was a highly sought after candidate, but home cooking generally wins out. At the time, the coach that he made that commitment to was Urban Meyer. Months later in December of 2010, Urban infamously retired (act 2 of 2) putting a large question mark around the incoming recruit. Only nine days after Urban’s retirement announcement, Ryan Shazier decommitted from the University of Florida notifying The Ohio State University of his verbal acceptance, marking yet another reason for the Urban Meyer love affair.
I haven’t felt so great about being a backup plan since junior prom.
Alright, while that last part may not be entirely true, we can all agree that we are very thankful of how the situation unraveled as Ohio State fans. Regardless of how intently you watch the Buckeyes, there is no doubt in my mind that you have surely heard the praises of Ryan Shazier sung on a consistent basis. The intensity and athleticism that is presented each week can only be matched by the senior, John Simon who we profiled a couple months ago. Outside of that, we truly may not see an athlete with his combination of talent, commitment and passion for several years to come. It is early, I get it. And I am definitely not a scout or qualified to be singing such high praises for a player with just 23 games under his belt, but I believe that even as far as Shazier has come, he still has an incredible ceiling.
Like most college players, Ryan Shazier did not start for the Buckeyes as a true freshman in 2011, but saw significant playing time during the season. He recorded 57 tackles which was good for the most by a true freshman in the past 15 years, when Andy Katzenmoyer racked up 86 tackles in 1996. Shazier made a significant impact throughout the season in which he earned the right to start in the final 3 games of the 2011 season where he totaled 30 of those 56 tackles. Numbers such as those are pretty solid considering the fact that Shazier spent most of his time on special teams and filling in at linebacker. Couple that with him being a true freshman and even the casual fan can quickly realize the improvement and upside to an athlete like this.
Let’s get down to it though; What really sparked this entire thing was quick post that I came across on Twitter comparing Ryan Shazier, to Manti Te’o of Notre Dame. Of course there was some buzz from Buckeye fans around these exact stats, which are courtesy of Elevenwarriors.com, and deservedly so:
Then I came across this comment on Twitter by a sports writer and Miami Hurricanes grad (which will remain nameless) trying to crush any possibility of a comparison: “OSU fans comparing Shazier to Manti Te’o: just stop it. You’re being foolish.”
Naturally, I questioned his position prompting the following responses:
“They both could play LB for me if I was starting a team, no doubt. But Te’o is better right now. No question. Shazier is getting more chances to make plays than Te’o. OSU started a FB at LB, Manti is playing with 4 1st rounders.”
Let me preface with this: I do not know of many more things that annoy the crap out of me more than people making condescending declarations about a topic they feel strongly about without much substance. Everyone has an opinion and everyone is entitled to exactly that, but as we all know, social media has given a platform to people that can make outlandish comments with zero repercussions. Sometimes I feel that it is my job to call those people out one by one.
Now that I exorcised some demons, it should be pretty clear that we are looking at production for Ryan and Manti’s production for this season so far. Obviously, both have had spectacular seasons to date and with Ohio State idle this week, the numbers will again be an interesting comparison point when both have played 10 total games.
We cannot tell the future of what Te’o will do against Boston College this week and to be honest, it is not even worth speculating. There is not much of a point in breaking down the numbers into individual categories and talking points because there really is a good story there as it stands. Both players are incredible athletes and are clearly an extraordinarily large part of each team’s respective defenses.
Yet Manti Te’o should be a Heisman favorite and in most circles, already has an invite to New York while Ryan Shazier has comparable, if not better numbers and rarely gets national attention.
“But Te’o is better right now. No question.”
Actually, there is a question and that line might as well just read “because I said so” because in comparing the numbers (which, you know, Heisman numbers are based upon) we can clearly see that Shazier is just as valuable to his team, if not more-so than Manti Te’o.
Listen, I am not trying to state a case for anything or anyone at this point. Both comments created quite a a stir on several different social media platforms and more than anything I would be interested in hearing/reading differing viewpoints.
*image courtesy of lmk.com