Ryan Shazier: 'I'm going to come back and play'

Pittsburgh Steelers scout Mark Gorscak motioned for all the linebackers to move in closer. Closer, he repeated. He urged them five different times in a span of 30 seconds, to move in closer to him, closer to each other. Ultimately, he wanted them closer to Ryan Shazier.

The prospective pros listened as Gorscak dedicated Sunday's workouts at the NFL Scouting Combine to the Steelers' star. They smiled when Gorscak told them they might be the next Shazier.

"One thing I know about Ryan Shazier," Gorscak said, "I ain't betting against him coming back."

Shazier has every intention of rewarding that bet. The former All-Pro linebacker spoke over the phone Sunday to Rich Eisen and Mike Mayock on NFL Scouting Combine Live and expressed his appreciation for Gorscak and the linebackers having his back. Then he insisted he'll be back.

"I'm feeling great. I'm getting a lot better," Shazier said. "Every day is a challenge, but every day I promise you it's getting better. We have rehab four times a week. I do it two hours a day. Every day is a new journey and I'm constantly getting better."

Pittsburgh general manager Kevin Colbert told reporters last Wednesday that Shazier will not play in 2018 as he continues to rehabilitate the spinal injury he suffered on Dec. 4. Shazier reiterated the goal remains to not only return to the field but to be a Hall of Famer.

"My end goal is to allow the Lord to let me come back and play at the high level that I was before," Shazier said. "Every day I try to get better. I strive for the Hall of Fame and I was doing that through this year, the whole time I was playing. And I still do that while I'm doing rehab. I know it's still a possibility. I have the Lord and he has my back and I constantly feel I'm going to come back and play football."

Naturally, Shazier's career-threatening injury has stirred a wide range of emotions and thoughts for the 25-year-old. He says only once did he ask himself, why me?

"In any situation in life people always say, 'dang, why did I have to go through this? I love the game so much. I love what I'm doing so much.' But honestly, I probably asked that one time," Shazier admitted. "It was probably with my family members. When it first happened, I was like, 'dang, this a tough situation. Why [did] I have to go through this?' Everybody knows that injuries [are] a part of football. It just threw me off. Once I said that, I just talked to the Lord. I knew that he had something for me and he wanted me to lead more people to God. And that's the calling that he has me doing right now and I'll just continue to get better."

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