Ohio State junior linebacker Ryan Shazier is the Buckeyes' leading tackler with 73, which puts him ninth in the Big Ten in that category. Speed is the reason for his production, he says.
"I feel every running back I've faced this year, I've been faster than them," Shazier told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Shazier (6-foot-2, 230 pounds) told the newspaper he runs a 4.35 40-yard dash. That's probably hyperbole, considering that the time would be blazing fast for a wide receiver or cornerback, much less a linebacker. Still, there is no doubt Shazier is one of the fastest linebackers in the nation.
"He is really fast and instinctual," Buckeyes linebacker coach Luke Fickell told the Plain Dealer.
He had 115 tackles, five sacks, 17 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and an interception last season. He could stand to add a few pounds, but his playmaking ability erases almost all concerns about his size.
Shazier, from Plantation, Fla., a suburb of Fort Lauderdale, originally committed to Florida before reneging after Urban Meyer stepped down as Gators coach. Serendipitously for Shazier, he ended up playing for Meyer anyway.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.