Departing seniors get one last opportunity to individually run out of the tunnel onto the Ohio Stadium field to cheers before the final home game of their final season. For Christian Bryant, it will be a slow trek prior to Saturday's home finale vs. Indiana.
"It will be one of those emotional days for me," Bryant said. "It could possibly be my last game in the Shoe. … I feel like it's probably going to be a great experience."
Bryant suffered a broken left ankle late in the Wisconsin game that has kept him on the sideline for much of the season. He will still be on crutches when the seniors are honored this weekend. But that does not mean the book is necessarily closed on the fourth-year senior's collegiate career.
Bryant's football future still has plenty of questions that need answered, but his present still has him limited. He slowly made his way from the Ohio State locker area in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on Monday to where the media was assembled. When he reached the table and worked on sitting down at a chair, he smiled and joked.
"I hope I was missed," he said.
While Bryant had not spoken to the press since his injury, he has still been around the program while working on his rehab. Bryant can be seen around the defense on the sideline during home games and has helped bring along those players who have worked on replacing him on the field.
"He's still the guy that everybody on that defense looks to," OSU co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Everett Withers said. "He's the guy that if something isn't going well, he's going to let everybody know that it isn't going well and why it isn't going well. If it's going well, he's going to be a positive role model on that sideline.
"He has a tremendous role, and I think our players feel good when he's there. I think he provides a glue to our football team."
As for the injury, Bryant called it a fluke accident. On one of the last plays of Ohio State's 31-24 home win vs. Wisconsin on Sept. 28, linebacker Joshua Perry rolled up on Bryant's leg while making a tackle on UW's James White. Bryant at first throught the injury wasn't too serious, perhaps a high ankle sprain.
Then reality set in.
"As I was riding back to the locker room it just started throbbing a lot more," Bryant said. "Then it kind of went numb, so as soon as we went back to the locker room the doctors X-rayed it immediately. I heard one of the doctors tell me that my ankle was broke.
"It was just one of those moments where you really can't explain how you feel."
Bryant said he was down emotionally for maybe a week before family, teammates and coaches helped get him out of his funk.
"With positive people around me influencing me, I had no choice but to positive about the whole situation," Bryant said. "Right now, that's where I'm at with the whole process. … I would say that just this whole organization around the Woody, everybody inspired me. Everybody just made me think positively about the situation."
Bryant was also touched by the actions of junior linebacker Ryan Shazier, who traded his No. 10 uniform for Bryant's No. 2 to honor his teammate.
"That means the world to me," Bryant said. "When Ryan came up to me about a week later if he can wear the number, I didn't really hesitate in telling him yes. … I feel like everyone knows that my spirit is still out on the field even though I'm not physically out there. It was a great, humbling experience for me, also."
Bryant still hopes to possibly be cleared to play in Ohio State's bowl game. He has also discussed the possibility to attempting to appeal for a redshirt. The five games he played this season make him ineligible for a redshirt, but NCAA bylaws permit him to appeal for a review that could allow him one more year of eligibility.
"We'll just have to see if I could get one, or if I (can't) I'm not really that upset about not being able to receive a redshirt," Bryant said.
So while Bryant will be honored with his fellow seniors prior to the game against the Hoosiers, his story might not be over.