Shazier Found a Way to Work at FNL

Ryan Shazier

A hip injury for Ryan Shazier wouldn't allow him to work out during Friday Night Lights, but his most important work came off the field. The Florida commitment stalked the sidelines of The Swamp talking about the Gators with any prospect that would listen.

The Plantation High School prospect spent time with linebacker A.J. Jones, defensive end Curt Maggitt, defensive back Marcus Roberson and 2012 wide receiver Brandon Snell.

His sell was simple. The loss of multiple top players from the program won't deflect from the success of the program.

"I just tell them it's the best place to be," Ryan Shazier said. "Some of the kids, I don't even know their names, but I just tell them that if you've got an offer, this is the right place."

It was difficult for the four-star linebacker to stand on the sideline and watch. He injured the hip while working out with his team in mid-July, and doctors told him sitting out of the event would be the best thing for his recovery.

However, Shazier didn't want to miss the environment. He never hesitated about still making the trip to Gainesville, instead wanting to be available to help the Florida coaches in any capacity.

"I just want to be a part of the family," Shazier said. "I want to sit here and experience everything to do what I can."

The nation's No. 8 outside linebacker didn't sit out with ease. He watched as linebackers coach D.J. Durkin ran the campers through multiple drills, but the frustration built, as he couldn't participate.

"I hate to watch other people play when I can't do anything," Shazier said. "Sometimes you know you're better than people, but you can't prove it."

His frustration didn't keep him from learning. Shazier made sure to listen closely to Coach Durkin to pull out parts to work on when he returns home.

"You can learn a new stance or simple stuff like technique," Shazier said. "I learn what to practice on at home."

The work Shazier puts in on his own will determine how early he sees the field at Florida. He plays defensive end for Plantation High School and will do so during his senior year as well.

Once he gets to Gainesville, Shazier will play outside linebacker. He has elite speed for the position, and the Florida coaches want to use it where he has the ability to run around more.

"It won't be that hard," Shazier said of the move. "You've got to flip your hips and make tackles in the open field with both spots. They both get off blocks and drop back into coverage. I'm already good in man-to-man. I always man-up with the receivers, so I know I'll be fine on the tight ends. He may be stronger, but I know I'm ready for it because he's not quicker."

He will play defense end as a senior because that is what his team needs. Right when his senior season is over, Shazier's mind will turn to making the transition into being an outside linebacker.

"I think I'm going to be fine because I'll be practicing all year," Shazier said. "I might be playing d-line, but in practice, I'm getting reps and watching film to see what I can do better at linebacker."

The transition will be made easier thanks to the way Florida is recruiting the defensive line. Last year, the Gators signed the top two defensive tackles in the country when they inked Shariff Floyd and Dominique Easley. They also added the top defensive end and overall player in the country with Ronald Powell.

While they eat up blocks at the line of scrimmage, Shazier will have plenty of holes to read the play and make tackles.

He read about the three players when they were being recruited. He even saw pictures of them online. But there is nothing that could have prepared him for seeing what they looked like in person on Friday.

"I talked to (Ronald) Powell earlier and I saw Sharrif (Floyd) from a distance," Shazier said. "I saw how big those guys were and I couldn't be happier. I'd heard a lot about them, but I didn't think they were that big. They told me that they just gained more weight, and I'm thinking to myself ‘more weight?'"
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