Ohio State football: Even while injured, Christian Bryant makes impact

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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Eamon Queeney | Dispatch
Christian Bryant is helped off the field after suffering a broken ankle against Wisconsin on Sept. 28.

Almost from the moment Christian Bryant hit the turf in pain from a broken left ankle that ended his senior season, the Ohio State safety and co-captain said he’s been uplifted by those showing him support.

“As soon as it happened, my mind was racing just because I couldn’t quite understand why it may have happened,” Bryant said yesterday, speaking of his injury for the first time since it happened against Wisconsin on Sept. 28. “I was probably in that (emotional) hole … maybe about a week. But my teammates, my family, the coaches — everybody stood by me.

“Everybody was positive about the whole situation. And it wasn’t one moment where I thought things were going to be bad. With positive people around me, I had no choice but to be positive about the whole situation.”

That junior linebacker Ryan Shazier asked Bryant for permission to wear his No. 2 jersey for the remainder of the season, starting that next week at Northwestern, “That really put the icing on the cake,” Bryant said. “That means the world to me.

“With him wearing my number, I feel like everyone knows my spirit is still out on the field even though I’m not physically out there.”

Since then, Shazier has been named a semifinalist for three major awards, and yesterday was named the Big Ten defensive player of the week and the Lott IMPACT national player of the week after his career-high 16 tackles, including 1.5 sacks and a safety, in a 60-35 win at Illinois.

“I think it just pushed him a little bit, knowing he had to be out there making plays for me and him,” Bryant said.

Bryant, on crutches because his left foot and ankle are still in a heavy wrap, said he plans to take part in the senior day introductions on Saturday in Ohio Stadium before the start of the last home game against Indiana.

“It could be a possibility it’s my last game in the ’Shoe, and just walking out and seeing the fans’ reaction to me walking out of the tunnel for the last time in the ’Shoe, I feel like it’s probably going to be a great experience,” Bryant said.

He and Ohio State might appeal to the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility, a medical redshirt season that has been granted in limited cases.

“We’ll just have to see if I could get one, maybe, but if not, I’m not really that upset about not being able to receive a redshirt,” Bryant said.

Safeties coach Everett Withers said Bryant is a welcome presence in the meeting room and on the sideline.

“He’s still the guy that everybody on that defense looks to,” Withers said. “He is a tremendous role model, and I think our players feel good when he’s there.”

So much so that coach Urban Meyer was shaken by Bryant’s injury. He called him “the undisputed leader of that defense” and said his absence on the field would leave a void. Bryant said he has heard that and several other statements Meyer has made about his value to the team.

“If you’re one of those guys (on the team) who is held to high expectations and you get to those expectations, coach Meyer is one of those guys who will praise you as long as you are doing all the right things on and off the field,” Bryant said. “He’s just a great guy and I feel great for him to hold me so high.”

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports

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