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Ohio's Bryce Houston (#32) tackles Duquesne's Max Baker (#75) during the Ohio versus Duquesne match in Peden Stadium on Saturday, Sep. 11, 2021. Ohio lost 28-26.

Football: Bryce Houston has climbed through adversity to become a leader

Bryce Houston enjoys being a leader for Ohio.

The redshirt junior likes to set the example for his teammates. He pours himself into his work on the field and doesn’t cut himself any slack when makes a mistake in practices or in games.

“I don’t really give myself a lot of excuses,” Houston said. “I honestly feel like me having this opportunity to be able to slow down and step back, it gave me more time to focus on film, focus on my upper body, making sure that I’m just as fast on the field, looking at the sideline point of view, as I am making tackles and making plays.”

Houston works hard because he’s had to work even harder to end up where he is now.

Prior to his career at Ohio, Houston had compiled an impressive resume playing for Olentangy Orange High School in Lewis Center. He had committed to Ohio and earned All-State, All-Ohio Capital Conference, All-District and Super 25 Team recognition as a junior. For two straight seasons, he served as team captain. Houston was on top of the world.

Then it all came crashing down.

In October 2017, midway through his senior year, Houston tore his right ACL and meniscus and was forced to sit out the rest of the season. He had racked up 81 tackles, seven sacks and two interceptions before his injury, and now, it was cut short.

The recovery was long, and Houston had to make sacrifices in order to recover properly. He missed out on the remainder of his senior year of football and was forced to miss his final year of his second love — wrestling.

Houston has a soft spot for his days as a wrestler. He fell in love with the sport when he was younger and said the challenges presented to him through wrestling made him better not only as a wrestler but also as a football player. Houston underwent a strenuous conditioning process every season for wrestling, and he believes it helped his skills on the football field. He became faster, stronger and more disciplined.

“I feel like wrestlers do take that type of mentality of, you know, they don’t care,” Houston said. “They’re going to be stronger than you. They’re trying to be faster than you in every single type of possibility.”

Houston’s tackling, leverage and overall toughness also improved from wrestling. Not only did the sport help him physically, but it also taught him how to deal with adversity. 

In his freshman year with the Bobcats in 2018, Houston appeared in only two games after redshirting and recorded just one tackle. The previous injury from high school and a lack of play time might demoralize any other player. Houston, however, used that adversity as a stepping stool to improve himself both mentally and physically. 

“It’s weird to say,” Houston said. “But I’m thankful for those opportunities because they made me the man I am today.”

He took the strengths gained from his previous experiences — both good and bad — and is now applying them to the gridiron. 

Linebackers coach Nate Faanes praised Houston for his communication, mentorship and coaching ability by always watching his fellow players’ reps, even when they’re not on the field. 

“On the field, he’s physical,” Faanes said. “(He) can run, does all the things right. He’s smart. He’s got good instincts.”

Prior to the his redshirt junior season, Houston had 10 total tackles to his name. Just two games into 2021, he’s already recorded twice that total. Even if his time at Ohio got off to a rocky start, Houston climbed from the bottom to become a leader for the Bobcats.

“He’s had a lot of adversity,” Faanes said. “I think he’s done a great job of handling that, and a lot of growth came out of that. I’m really proud of him for that because of how frustrating it is.”

@elifeaz  

ef195418@ohio.edu 

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