COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ryan Shazier keeps moving in the right direction.
Shazier attended an NCAA tournament game in Pittsburgh last month. He led cheers at the Pittsburgh Penguins' NHL playoff game on Wednesday. And on Saturday, Shazier served as an honorary coach at Ohio State's Scarlet vs. Gray game. Four months after suffering a career-threatening spinal injury on Monday Night Football against the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals, the Steelers linebacker stood up, waved his arms and embraced Malcolm Jenkins to a loud ovation.
That provided the most heart-warming moment on a rainy afternoon at Ohio Stadium. Earlier, Shazier wore a "Silver Bullets" T-shirt and spoke with reporters from a golf cart. While Shazier didn't go too far into the details of his recovery, the former Buckeyes linebacker said attending sporting events in Pittsburgh and Columbus has aided his recovery process.
"I think it helps out a lot," Shazier said. "At the end of the day, when somebody is going through something, whenever you are allowed to get back to your regular routine it allows you to feel like yourself. I feel like that definitely helps me out a lot just to get back on my feet and get back moving."
Shazier suffered a spinal injury against the Bengals on Dec. 4 and underwent spinal stabilization surgery a week later. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Shazier won't play in the 2018 season, but the star linebacker continues to persevere on the comeback trail. Shazier singled out Ohio State and Steelers fans for promoting his #Shalieve initiative, but he said the support has extended across the country. Coaches, fans, and so much more.
"It's been outstanding support," Shazier said. "I still get support to this day from the day I got hurt. There has been so much mail that I can't read it all. I'm grateful for all the support and all the prayers.
"I'm feeling a lot better than I was in December and every day I'm getting better," he said. "I'm just thanking the Lord and talking to him and thanking everybody who is here for me."
Shazier felt the rush of memories with another spring game in Columbus, too. He starred at linebacker for the Buckeyes from 2011-13. He totaled 144 tackles and 23.5 tackles for loss in 2013 before Pittsburgh selected him with the No. 15 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
When Ohio State coach Urban Meyer reached out to see if Shazier wanted to be an honorary coach, there was no hesitation.
"One of my favorite players of all time, Ryan Shazier, is going through a little bit of a tough time,” Meyer said after the game. "He was able to share that with people he cares very deeply about, Buckeye Nation and his teammates and coaches."
Shazier gladly accepted — and stayed in his comfort zone at The Shoe.
"It really means a lot to be back here at Ohio State," he said. "The people have always been supportive of me even before I got injured and especially now. Just the fact I could be here and supporting them back means a lot."
With that in mind, Shazier intends to keep moving. It's an inspirational story worth following, and the linebacker should make more appearances on the comeback trail. He was asked about a wristband he wears as a constant reminder every day.
"I'm a walking miracle," Shazier said. "I'm going to come back stronger than ever and be back on my feet."
Expect him to keep walking in the right direction.