Ryan Shazier could be next all-time great Ohio State LB

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CHICAGO -- Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier was not at Big Ten media days, but he is garnering plenty of attention heading into his junior season.

Coach Urban Meyer was asked Thursday if Shazier is set to join the ranks of the best Buckeye linebackers of all-time, a group that includes current NFL players James Laurinaitis and A.J. Hawk.

Meyer would not go that far in his praise, though.

"He still has work to do," Meyer said. "By the end of the season, I thought he was playing at a very high level. You start talking about a list of the great ones, I don't know if I can go there yet. I'm just not sure. The way he finished the season last year, he's one of the best 'backers I've had."

Shazier is on the Butkus Award and Lombardi Award watch lists after finishing among the Big Ten's top 10 in five different statistical categories last season. He led the conference with 17 tackles for loss and finished second in the league with 115 total tackles.

NFL.com draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah rates Shazier as the 14th-most talented player in college football on his Talented Top 50 list.

He has shown maturity this offseason, too, according to Buckeyes safety Christian Bryant.

"Ryan really has improved a lot in his leadership skills," Bryant said Thursday. "He's a lot more vocal than he has been in the past and I feel like that's because he's growing up."

The Buckeyes need Shazier to take on more of a leadership role -- he is the only returning starter in the front seven on defense.

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