Nick Bosa will be compared to his older brother Joey for as long as they are both playing football. Despite the lofty expectations, however, Nick has yet to fall short of the immense example that his brother set before him.
By the time Joey Bosa was entering spring camp as a sophomore, he was coming off of a freshman campaign where he started 10 games and was an impact player for the Buckeyes. That spring was his first with Larry Johnson as his position coach and he continued his progression throughout the season, earning All-American honors along the way.
Not bad for a guy’s first two years at Ohio State.
By the time Nick Bosa is done with his sophomore season, he may have some accolades of his own, and yet because of OSU’s depth at defensive end, he may not even have a single start to his credit.
Don’t let that make you think he isn’t where he should be. In fact, Johnson believes that Nick is actually ahead of his brother at the same point in their respective careers.
“Nick can probably get the little things a little earlier than Joey did,” he said. “I arrived late (for Joey), Nick got everything I gave Joey his freshman year, and so I think that makes a difference. He’s a year ahead toward his progression. He’s done a great job and he’s locked in and he’s going to be a good player for us.”
Nick spent last spring in high school while also recovering from a torn ACL. He didn’t arrive at Ohio State until the summer, and even then he was eased into things during camp so that he would be full go for game one. He didn’t disappoint, notching his first sack as a Buckeye in his debut against Bowling Green.
Bosa finished 2016 with 29 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss, and 5.0 sacks. The sacks were good for second on the team behind Tyquan Lewis.
This is Bosa’s first spring as a Buckeye and he is already seeing the payoff.
“I was healthy last year, but this spring I feel like I’ve gotten so much better,” he said.
Bosa split his time between defensive end and defensive tackle (on passing downs) last year, but expects to stay at defensive end this year because that’s where he believes he is most effective.
“I’m playing outside,” he said. “Outside is where I want to be, where I think I’ll play. I just like it a lot more. I get to run and work my moves a little more, get the guy moving.”
Given his effectiveness and versatility on the field, it is impossible to watch the younger Bosa and not see his brother. It even happens for Johnson, though he also notices the differences.
“There is some similarities because they’re from the same blood,” Johnson said. “They’re going to have the same bend, same hips, those kinds of things. Joey was a relentless player. A relentless player. Powerful. Nick is really finesse, he’s smoother in the transition. But he’s just a freshman so we have to see where he goes from here, but I like where he’s at right now.”
Johnson talks of giving each of his players specific tools to put into their toolboxes as defensive linemen. It is that extra year of learning from Johnson that has put Nick on a faster track than his brother.
“Only because he got it earlier,” Johnson said of Nick. “Just keep in mind, I got here in the second year for Joey, so we had to change some things from him to give him the toolbox. So Nick has been here early. So I think the advancement for him is going to be a little bit faster.”