Losing Bryant was a big blow to the Ohio State defense. The senior captain provided great leadership both on and off the field, but had to stick to leading his team from the sidelines as he was expected to miss the rest of the season due to his injury. Linebacker Ryan Shazier even requested to wear Bryant’s No. 2 jersey for the rest of the season as a tribute to him.
The Buckeyes originally thought that Bryant would be healthy in time to play in a bowl game. He is off his crutches but with less than two weeks until they meet the Clemson Tigers in the Orange Bowl, a return for Bryant that soon seems out of the question. However, he has applied for a medical redshirt so that he can return for a fifth season with the Buckeyes in 2014.
Right now, they are just waiting to hear back from the NCAA about whether or not they will allow him to return next season. He does not fit the traditional redshirt criteria, but they are still hoping that the NCAA will allow Bryant to take another shot at his senior season.
Their argument is that even though he played in 38 percent of Ohio State’s games this season as opposed to the medical redshirt rule of playing in less than 30 percent of a team’s games, he still missed 62 percent of his season. He also missed 42 percent of his true freshman season in 2010 because of a foot infection. Bryant has not yet taken a redshirt year and has also missed 13 games since 2010 due to his infection and now his ankle injury.
The Buckeyes are expecting a decision from the NCAA to come soon. A return by Bryant would indeed be a huge boost to the Ohio State defense in 2014, especially with the losses of Shazier and cornerback Bradley Roby to the NFL. They would have great leadership back on the field, which is something that the defense desperately needs.
The Buckeyes have struggled defensively all season and their performances in pass coverage recently leave much to be desired. Bryant would bring back the leadership and the talent that they need to be more effective in that area of the game. Bryant’s father said that if his son is granted the medical redshirt, he will definitely take it and return for the Buckeyes in 2014. If not, then he realizes that means it may be time for him to move onto the next chapter in his life.
A decision by the NCAA for Bryant to return in 2014 would indeed be a great Christmas present for both him and the Buckeyes.