Nick Bosa on His Decision to Play at Ohio State: ‘I Can't Wait to Write My Story’

By Jeremy Birmingham on March 29, 2016 at 2:15 pm
Nick Bosa at Ohio State in March

Nick Bosa was the Ohio State fan — not his brother, the future NFL first-round pick and now ex-Buckeye, Joey. 

"I've always been the Ohio State fan," Nick told Eleven Warriors way back in 2013. "(Joey) is following me."

Times have changed a bit as the five-star 2016 signee is now literally preparing to follow his brother to Columbus, but just because they like the same music, play the same position, wear the same number and much more doesn't mean they're the same player or person. Bosa, at 6-foot-4 and 270 pounds, isn't going to shy away from comparisons with his brother, but he also knows that they won't define him. He suggests that not only are those comparisons reasonable, but they mirror his own.

"(There is) no pressure because I expect to play just like (people) expect me to play," Bosa told 11W Monday. "I do expect a lot from myself and that's why I work really hard. I'm just doing me. Whatever I accomplish, I accomplish — not stressed about it."

What was a bit stressful for Bosa — who finished the 2016 recruiting cycle as the eighth-ranked player in this class — was the entire recruiting process. Despite knowing it was likely he'd end up at Ohio State for most of his high school career, the challenges of being so visible as a teenager can lead to feeling a bit overwhelmed.

“With Coach Johnson at Ohio State, there was never a chance of me flipping.”–  Nick Bosa on whether Florida State received real consideration

"It was cool when it started," he said of the recruiting process. "It's every kid's dream to have coaches raving about you, but it definitely gets old and the constant calls and communication was not something I liked at all."

As his brother developed his talents in Columbus, Nick was building his relationship with the Buckeyes, specifically defensive line coach Larry Johnson. It was that relationship and the chance to follow that path that led Bosa to Ohio State, not growing up a fan.

"I didn't just choose Ohio State because I was a fan," he said. "I just knew that Ohio State had the best opportunity for me with (Larry) Johnson and (Urban) Meyer so it was an easy choice. (Larry Johnson) was definitely the deciding factor. He's as good a guy as you'll ever meet and everyone saw what he turned Joey into."

"He's just so far ahead of anyone else coaching the defensive line and I learned that throughout my visits."

Larry Johnson, Sr. and Nick Bosa at an Ohio State satellite camp in Florida.

Florida State was the only team in the country that could've diverted this Buckeye bloodline, but Bosa indicated that as long as Johnson was at Ohio State, that thought couldn't be taken too seriously.

"Florida State had a chance," he said. "But with Coach Johnson at Ohio State, there was never a chance of me flipping."

When you're an athlete at the level of Nick Bosa, there are few things that can impact you more than a serious injury, which is what the St. Thomas Aquinas star experienced last October for the first time in his life. He underwent knee surgery in early November to repair damage done to his right knee suffered during a game with the Raiders. If it were up to Bosa himself, he may never have known it was something to pay attention to.

"It was just a weird step, it didn't hurt too bad," he said of the knee injury. "I just got an MRI because my dad is over protective (laughs). I've never had a serious injury so I'm not sure what it's like coming back from one."

He may not know what it's like to come back from one, but he's learning what it takes and, according to anyone who's seen him since the operation, he's doing well.

"I'm doing a lot more than running now," said Bosa, updating his rehab. "I'm jumping on one leg, doing pretty much everything. I just need to keep reinforcing it and getting faster and more explosive off my right knee, but it's going really well. When I was in Ohio (for Ohio State's NFL Pro Day in early March) Mick Marotti and the doctor took a quick look at it and they were really surprised how good it was going."

With most athletes, the physical element of rehab is the easy part of the puzzle to figure out. Getting your mind right and trusting your body again when it's let you down oftentimes becomes the tallest–and most difficult–hurdle to clear. So far, that's not be an issue for Bosa, but he admits it may be different when it comes to putting on the pads and going full-speed.

"I'll be cleared before I go up to school most likely," he said. "I probably won't do contact for a couple weeks of camp until I feel confident enough. So far it hasn't been hard at all mentally, just hard work. I'm sure when I'm running around playing football it will be different."

There's no doubt Bosa was the biggest "get" of the 2016 recruiting cycle for the Buckeyes, and he's ready to get to work. The offseason, the workouts, even the lack of recruiting "attention" has gotten tiresome, especially when you miss out on winning a state title with your teammates as you recover from an injury.

"It always sucks watching your team play don't have much to say other than that," Bosa said. "I'm starting to get bored (with the offseason), though. I'm ready to move on."

Moving on means getting to Ohio State and embracing the legacy he's been born into but taking hold of the expectations people–and himself–have. One of the perks he's experienced from having his big brother in Columbus is seeing up-close-and-personal how difficult it can be to be a big star in a big city. Joey Bosa made "waves" in 2015 for his decision to lay low socially during his last season with the Buckeyes, but Nick understands why it's happened.

"St. Thomas Aquinas is like a training ground for big-time college programs," Bosa said. "I don't really pay attention to what people say about Joey but there's a lot of haters obviously. He's showed me that if you lock in for a few years you'll reach your dream and that's what it takes. There's always room for fun though don't get me wrong."

The locking-in phase of Bosa 2.0 has already begun. He's still rehabbing from that knee injury, but he knows what he needs to work on in order to live up to the expectation of Urban Meyer and Larry Johnson: For Nick to play significantly as a freshman.

“I'm most excited to get out on the field and prove I'm the real deal.”– Nick Bosa

"My pass rush," Bosa said of what area of his game he's working on the most. "I think I'll be able to hold up against the run right when I get up there, no problem. It's tough in high school to get work on pass rush because no teams drop back and actually pass protect so I've been working on that. (Coach) Johnson will definitely get me better at using my hands and flipping my hips."

To get on the field this fall, Bosa will have to prove not only that he's 100 percent healthy, but he may need to be flexible and show he can play inside or on the edge. He knows that he'll get some help from one of his closest friends of the Ohio State roster.

"I would like to end up being an edge guy but if getting on the field means I have to move inside, I'm just fine with that," Bosa said. "Sam Hubbard is a good friend now and I am definitely excited to play with him. He'll teach me what to do and what not to do."

Whatever happens in his career, Nick Bosa will be ready. He's never been fond of the talking, the recruiting, the media hype. He wants to do what he does best, to do what he loves minus all the distractions.

He picked Ohio State as the place for him years ago, and now he's just months away from putting on that silver helmet for the first time. Expectations are high, pressure is high — but the fear of failure? It doesn't exist for Nick Bosa.

"I chose Ohio State because of the coaches, the comfortable atmosphere," Bosa said. "It's unreal being a Buckeye and I can't wait to write my story. I'm most excited to get out on the field and prove I'm the real deal."

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