Urban Meyer had hoped to see Nick Bosa return to the field for Ohio State this season, but he wasn't shocked when he found out that Bosa had played his last game as a Buckeye.
"I was hopeful, like all of us were," Meyer said when asked if he thought Bosa would play again this year, "but I can’t say I was that surprised."
Ohio State announced Tuesday morning that Bosa has decided "to withdraw from school in order to devote more time to his rehabilitation and training efforts." Bosa, who has been sidelined since suffering a core muscle injury in the Buckeyes' third game of the season against TCU, will enter the 2019 NFL draft. He is expected to be one of the first players selected.
Meyer said Tuesday during the Big Ten football coaches' teleconference that he had a "very emotional" conversation with Bosa and his family, who made the decision earlier this week to conclude his college football career.
"We love Nick," Meyer said. "The Bosa family's been obviously awesome for Ohio State and the program, and Nick is a first-class guy. He’s very strong in his faith. He’s very strong academically. So it was very emotional."
With the news just breaking this morning, Meyer said he has not yet talked to his team about Bosa's decision, and had not yet decided as of Tuesday afternoon how he would approach that conversation with his team.
Meyer also said he was uncertain whether Bosa would spend any more time around the team this season, saying that Bosa and his family were still determining how exactly they should proceed forward with his recovery and NFL draft preparation.
“We love Nick. The Bosa family’S been obviously awesome for Ohio State and the program, and Nick is a first-class guy.”– Urban Meyer on Nick Bosa
Bosa is the second projected first-round NFL draft pick in the past two seasons to opt to end his Ohio State career before the end of the season to preserve himself for the next level. Former Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward opted not to play in the Cotton Bowl with the Buckeyes last season in order to avoid risking an injury in that game; Ward went on to be selected by the Cleveland Browns with the No. 4 overall pick in the NFL draft.
While Meyer would certainly prefer not to have players choose not to play while a season is ongoing, he understands that is a reality that comes with having talented players who are top NFL prospects – and he certainly wants Ohio State to continue to have those kind of players.
"If the question is would you like to continue to have talented guys, of course so," Meyer said Tuesday. "I certainly understand, and we support, especially when you’re talking about two high-character, classy people like the two names you just mentioned, Nick and Denzel. So it’s just something you got to deal with and move forward, just like early entries to the draft. It happens, and you got to go."
With Bosa gone for the remainder of the season, Meyer said the Buckeyes are counting on the same five defensive ends who have played since Bosa's injury to continue to step up in his absence: Chase Young, Jonathon Cooper, Tyreke Smith, Jashon Cornell and Tyler Friday. Haskell Garrett also saw playing time at defensive end (four snaps) on Saturday against Minnesota, but Meyer said that was only because Cooper was also sidelined for the game, and that the Buckeyes plan to continue playing Garrett primarily at defensive tackle moving forward.
"We’ll need him inside as well," Meyer said of Garrett.