PITTSBURGH — Ryan Shazier received widespread support from around the NFL after suffering a severe spine injury in December. Opposing players prayed for him. The Pittsburgh Steelers honored him with Shazier-inspired shirts and cleats and pregame salutes.
Meanwhile, the Ohio State football team has been paying its own tributes to Shazier, who developed into a first-round pick as a Buckeyes linebacker from 2011-13.
Coach Urban Meyer has remained in steady communication with Shazier, who got a personal visit from team strength coach Mickey Marotti.
As part of Ohio State’s workouts during the 2017 season, players wore a black “Buckeye Tough” T-shirt with a number on each sleeve — Shazier’s NFL No. 50 on the left and his Ohio State No. 10 on the right.
“I think they were great,” said Shazier via text about the shirts. “And thankful that they are thinking of me.”
This week, Shazier delivered a surprise video message to fans aboard the Buckeye Cruise for Cancer. “[I want to get] back out there on the field and be able to run around with my family,” said Shazier, via Buckeye Sports. “Right now that’s my main goal. I just want to say thank you for everything you’ve done and everything you’re doing and all the support you’re doing.”
Shazier, 25, underwent spinal stabilization surgery Dec. 6 after a tackling attempt on Monday Night Football in Cincinnati left him clutching his lower back. He was rushed to a local hospital and eventually transported to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Shazier has used a wheelchair but is making progress in his rehab. He was cleared for outpatient care Feb. 1.
Shazier’s positive outlook aligns well with the “Buckeye Tough” theme.
“I really feel I’m the best linebacker ever,” Shazier told teammate Roosevelt Nix in a podcast last week. “I just have to be back out there so everybody can see it. You know what I’m saying?”