Ryan Shazier not only comes from a long line of great linebackers at Ohio State; he steps into a long line of great linebackers with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
And while he's not considered among the NFL greats ... not yet, at least ... he wants to be remembered that way in 10 or 15 years when his career is over.
"I want to be like the Kevin Garnett of football," Shazier said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. "He changed the game for bigs, and he was more of a shooter for a big guy. And that was different for people who didn't know how to adjust to that.
"And I want to be known like that when it comes to football. I'm not the biggest linebacker, but I'm a faster guy and still explosive and cover pretty well. I still have all the assets of everybody else, but I like to put my speed and explosiveness into it."
It is that athleticism that makes Shazier one of the most promising young linebackers in today's game, despite pre-draft critics downgrading him for his size, anticipation and awareness. Shazier last season was named to his first Pro Bowl, tying career bests with 87-1/2 tackles, including three-and-a-half sacks, while setting season highs in interceptions (3), forced fumbles (3) and passes defensed (9).
While Shazier was added to the Pro Bowl only after Baltimore's C.J. Mosely backed out, he was the only Steeler defender named to the club. And maybe, just maybe, that's the start of something big.
"I just want to be a name that's remembered forever," he said. "I want to be in the Hall of Fame and have my name in the record books. I just want guys to remember me as somebody who's really changing the game and (that) they want more guys to be like me and play like me and have the capabilities that I have."
(Ryan Shazier cover photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Steelers/Karl Roser)