With Ohio State leading 31-17 near the 10-minute mark of the fourth quarter against Indiana, coach Urban Meyer needed a defensive stop. He sent in the goal line package to combat a fourth-and-one at the OSU four yard line.
A score by the Hoosiers would put OSU on its heels for the rest of the game. But a familiar No. 97 in scarlet didn’t allow that to happen. Freshman defensive end Nick Bosa penetrated Indiana’s offensive line and made the initial hit on junior running back Devine Redding, halting him at the line of scrimmage and forcing the Indiana offense to retreat to the sideline still trailing by 14.
There was no shrug, no hair sticking out of the back of the younger Bosa’s helmet, only a roar from a crowd of over 107,000 embracing Bosa for who he is, not who his brother was.
“I was just excited to get on the field on fourth down and have the opportunity to make the play for my team,” Bosa said. “They put the people in on goal line for a reason, just knocked them back, shed the block and made a tackle for loss.”
It’s fairly safe to say that anybody who paid attention to OSU football, or the realm of college football, knows the name Joey Bosa. As a two-time All-American, two-time first-team All-Big Ten, 2014 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and third-overall draft pick, the older Bosa set a precedent with the Buckeyes that his younger brother has almost unfairly been forced to meet.
Nick Bosa said he knows there is pressure, but he doesn’t necessarily feel it because of his confidence in his abilities.
“I didn’t listen to the hype too much,” Bosa said. “Coach (Larry Johnson) made it very easy for me to transition and he knew that there was going to be some pressure. But he kept working on getting me better and my teammates helped me too.”
Coming off of a torn ACL in his final high-school season at St. Thomas Aquinas in Florida, Bosa wasn’t able to participate in camp when he enrolled in Columbus last spring. Defensive line coach Larry Johnson has been in charge of bringing Bosa along at a pace he’s comfortable with, just one year after a serious injury.
Associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said Johnson has done a remarkable job with Bosa, especially given the skillset of the No. 1 consensus weakside defensive end in the 2016 recruiting class.
“For a guy his age to do the things he does physically … it’s rare,” Schiano said. “He’s very strong and he plays with great technique which young guys usually don’t. He’s well-trained.”
Bosa made four tackles against Indiana last week, including 1.5 tackles for loss. For the season, he has 13 total tackles, four tackles for loss and two sacks. At this time in Joey Bosa’s freshman year, he had 10 tackles and no tackles for loss or sacks. As time trots forward, Bosa may take on a larger role for Meyer and the defense.
Bosa said it took a couple games for him to get acclimated again after rehabilitating his injury. However, it’s becoming more apparent each week that Bosa is on a path to becoming a dominant force on the defensive line.
“We probably just have to play him probably a bit more as he’s getting healthy and more involved in the defense,” Meyer said after the game. “So obviously he’s a guy that, the last name, high expectations. I think he’s starting to fulfill them.”