Joey Bosa helped Ohio State to a national title last season, but he’s still planning to make changes in 2015.
And for the junior defensive lineman, that started with a quick trim of his trademark long hair.
“It’s kind of sad, but I like it,” Bosa said Thursday, with at least a few inches of hair missing from his head.
But a simple haircut is only part of the transition for a player who came within half a sack of OSU’s program record (14) last year.
Now established as a key cog on the Buckeyes’ defense, Bosa said he hasn’t been seeing a ton of live practice. Instead, the coaches have had him on the side working on non-contact drills for much of the spring, but he said that work is still helping him build on his sophomore success.
OSU defensive line coach Larry Johnson said Bosa’s work on the side still encompasses everything the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native needs in order to improve, which includes pass-rushing drills and video work. Johnson added that Bosa wouldn’t have it another way, because getting better is all he wants.
“He wants to be a great player, and great players find a way to improve,” Johnson said.
Bosa finished his sophomore season with 55 total tackles, 21 of which were for a loss, and 13.5 sacks. He also tallied four forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and four additional quarterback hits.
But regardless of individual numbers, Bosa said he’s not close to a finished product.
“I can’t really pick one spot of my game that I could get better at, because I think I can improve every part of my game,” he said. “And that’s the plan, not just working at one thing but just getting better at every aspect of the game.”
Even as he works to improve as an individual, Bosa’s personal success isn’t the top priority. He’s projected as a likely first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft should he decide to leave OSU early, but Bosa said the goal is still to help the Buckeyes repeat their title run.
“I just want this team to be remembered as something great,” he said. “We definitely will for last year, but new team, new year, we’re trying to repeat, obviously.”
Now with spring practice winding down ahead of OSU’s Spring Game at Ohio Stadium on Saturday, Bosa said he can control his own destiny when it comes to improving his game.
“I feel like if I go out and work every day, everything will fall in place,” he said.
Some might argue that everything already fell in place for Bosa when he was named a consensus first-team All-American last season, which could lead to complacency.
Former Buckeye Michael Bennett said last season that he was hesitant in early games because of a fear of injury before turning it on down the stretch. But Johnson said he’s not worried about Bosa’s motivation with the NFL on the horizon.
“He wants to be great. Great players don’t shut down, great players go forward,” Johnson said.
Amid the change in Bosa’s hunt for a second national title as a collegiate athlete, at least one thing will stay the same if he gets a sack against Virginia Tech on Sept. 7 when the Buckeyes are set to open their 2015 season in Blacksburg, Va.
The long hair might be gone, but Bosa said his “shrug” celebration isn’t going anywhere just yet.
“It’s gotta return, right?” he said. “At least one more year.”