AP Sports Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Ohio State junior linebacker Ryan Shazier has decided to give up his senior season to make himself available for the NFL draft.
In a statement released by Ohio State, the first-team All-American said he just felt the timing was right.
"Playing in the NFL is something that I have been dreaming about since my days in pee-wee football," said Shazier, a 29-game starter for the Buckeyes. "I just feel that now is the perfect time for me."
A 6-foot-2, 230-pounder from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., he led the Buckeyes in tackles each of the last two seasons. His 143 tackles this season rank sixth nationally and in a tie for 13th on the Ohio State single-season charts.
His 22.5 tackles for a loss this year rank third nationally.
The Buckeyes won 24 games in a row the last two seasons before losing to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game and to Clemson in the Orange Bowl on Friday night.
"I feel like my three years at Ohio State were about great relationships with coaches, my teammates and Buckeye Nation," Shazier said. "Playing here was an amazing experience. It is really hard to explain the brotherhood I have with my teammates. They took care of me and were always there for me and I feel like we will be brothers for the rest of our lives."
Shazier was named a first-team Associated Press All-American this past season, all-Big Ten (coaches and media), a Butkus Award finalist and Bednarik and Lott award semifinalist. USA Today, ESPN.com and Sports Illustrated also named him a first-team All-American after a campaign in which he tied Big Ten records with three conference defensive player of the week honors and with five for his career. He was twice named the Lott IMPACT Trophy national player of the week.
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