Shazier Finally Where He Wants To Be
By Tony Gerdeman
Leaving the plush climate of Florida for the cold and gray Midwest in the middle of the winter would seem counter-intuitive, but for Ryan Shazier, he was simply doing what felt right for him.
One of the nation's top prep players, the 6'2” 210-pound four-star linebacker from Plantation, Florida didn't always know he wanted to be a Buckeye, and when he finally figured it out he never realized so many people would treat it as bad news.
Shazier, who ran a 4.44 forty-yard dash at an ESPN combine last February, originally committed to the Florida Gators in June of last year following a visit to the school. As he told the Orlando Sentinel the day after his pledge, the commitment came as a bit of a surprise.
“I really didn't know I would be committing, but everything up there was just perfect," he said. “Me and my mom and dad and little brother all went to visit the school and we just felt it would be the best decision for me and my family and for the academics, as well as athletics.”
However, when Florida coach Urban Meyer announced his retirement on December 8th, everything changed for Shazier, and he announced that he was re-opening his recruitment. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, they just happened to be visiting Shazier's school on the very day Meyer's announcement was made.
Unfortunately for Shazier, however, he had to deal with the backlash of decommitting from his home state school.
“When I decommitted from Florida, I was getting a lot of hatred,” he revealed. “People were like, 'You're making the wrong decision!' but to me, I was making the right decision.”
After returning from an Ohio State visit just over a week later, Shazier decided to pull the trigger and commit to the Buckeyes. As an early enrollee, however, things needed to move very quickly.
“My head was spinning. It was crazy because I had to make a quick decision because once I came back from my visit to Ohio State, that day I had to make my decision because I had to get my papers rolling so I could come to school. I had to make a quick decision and at the last minute me and my dad talked it over and we felt that this was the best place for me.”
Despite the quickness with which everything happened regarding Ohio State, this was by no means a hasty decision for Shazier.
“Ohio State was always on my mind, even when I was in Florida,” he said.
“I always told my mom and dad that I didn't feel like Florida was the right place. At the end of the day I didn't think I was going to go there. When the situation opened up I just took advantage of it.”
However, telling his mom that he wanted to leave the state was harder and more stressful than he could have ever imagined. After all, this is a kid who admitted to still needing his mom to wake him up in the morning “even until the last day of high school”. No son wants to do something that would disappoint his mother.
When he finally did decide that Ohio State was where he wanted to be, he didn't even know how to go about breaking the news to her. She wanted him to be a Gator, but he just couldn't see himself there any longer.
“The reason why I felt that Florida wasn't the right fit—the players were cool and everything, but the environment and the atmosphere weren't right for me,” he said.
“I just felt like I don't want to go here. My heart is not here, and I was just going here for my mother because she wanted me to stay close.”
“I'm going to be the one here for four years, not my mom or not my dad, so I made my decision,” he said.
“I didn't even tell my mom where I was going. She thought I was going to LSU. People thought I was going everywhere, but me and my dad were just holding it in.”
Despite the secrecy towards his mother, and her reluctance to see him go, there's no telling how this whole ordeal would have turned out for Shazier if not for a conversation he had with her prior to his visits to LSU and Ohio State.
“Before my visit to LSU, my mom called me because we had gotten into an argument because she didn't want me to leave Florida, and told me, 'Wherever you go, I'm going to be happy. Just make the best decision for you because wherever you go, I'm going to support you.'”
“That was a sigh of relief because there was no more pressure on me,” he admitted. “I'm not going somewhere just because my mom wants me to go there, or somebody else wants me to go there, I'm going somewhere because I really wanted to go there.”
With his decision made, and the paperwork signed, the only pressure that now remains for Shazier is that of your typical college football player. And it's that type of pressure that he seems relieved to finally be experiencing.
And now that his mother is no longer upset with his decision, that just leaves those angry Gator fans for Shazier to deal with. But as you would expect, he has a plan of attack for them as well.
“My dad said that that's just how people are,” Shazier said. “People are crazy and that's how life is. You've just got to deal with it and take it, and use it to your advantage. Use it on the field. When people are mad at you, just be mad back at them. Use it against somebody else.”
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