GLENDALE, Ariz. — After taking a few photos with his fellow defensive linemen on the field at University of Phoenix Stadium, Ohio State All-American defensive end Joey Bosa headed toward the tunnel to the Buckeyes’ locker room. Bosa, dressed in street clothes while his teammates were still in full uniform, was carrying a black T-shirt in his hand, wiping away what appeared to be tears from his eyes.
As he got closer to the tunnel, the large Ohio State contingent that stuck around to see the Buckeyes celebrate their 44-28 pounding of Notre Dame to win the Fiesta Bowl expressed their appreciation for one of the best defensive players in school history.
“JOEY! JOEY! JOEY!” they cheered.
Bosa acknowledged the applause, slapping hands with a few fans as he walked off the field for the final team as a member of Ohio State’s football team. He hit his signature shrug one last time. It was quite the emotional moment for the All-American and it was one that hit home.
Bosa was in street clothes because he was ejected from the Fiesta Bowl win in the first quarter following a targeting call when he hit Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer with the crown of his helmet in the chest. It was a questionable call, but it was one Bosa said he had to live with.
“Refs made a call, I’m in no place really to challenge that call or whatever, I don’t really know the rule,” he said afterward. “I was just trying to play football. It was unfortunate that it happened that way, but I’m proud of my team for stepping up and finishing the way they did.”
This wasn’t the way Bosa envisioned his Ohio State career to end.
Bosa, a junior, had been mum on his future plans leading up to the Fiesta Bowl. Widely projected to be one of the top picks in the upcoming NFL Draft, it was always assumed he’d opt to forgo his final year of eligibility, but still, the Fort Lauderdale, Florida native said all the right things leading up to the game against Notre Dame, never saying one way or the other what his intentions were.
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer spoiled the news in his final press conference leading up to the game saying Bosa would turn pro. And after the win over the Irish, Bosa confirmed he will be moving onto the NFL.
“I really was trying my absolute best to keep it unannounced that I was leaving. I had no intention whatsoever of it coming out before the game,” Bosa said. “I had no idea that [Meyer] said that; he didn’t even tell me. Apparently I declared for the Draft in my sleep.”
“I really didn’t want to take any attention off the team and what we were focusing on doing and that was winning this game,” he continued. “Now, obviously, it’s out there. He didn’t do it on purpose to upset me or anything. He probably thought it was out there already. It is what it is.”
Bosa finishes his Ohio State career with 26 career sacks — third all-time in school history behind only Jason Simmons (27.5) and Mike Vrabel (36). He was a two-time consensus All-American and the 2014 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
He is one of the best defensive players in the history of Ohio State’s storied program.
Bosa was forced to watch the final three quarters of his final collegiate game on a television right in front of his locker inside the Buckeyes’ locker room. After the game ended, after he had time to sit and reflect on his storied career, Bosa expressed what playing for Ohio State meant to him.
“I can’t sum it up in this short amount of time, but it’s been so amazing, I wouldn’t change it for the world,” Bosa said. “It’s been the best three years of my life and I’ll remember it forever.”