When Ohio State’s Joey Bosa drilled Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel on Saturday and forced a fumble that ultimately resulted in a safety, the record crowd at Ohio Stadium erupted.
Bosa wasn’t even sure where the ball landed.
“I just made a move inside and my eyes got big and I ran as fast as I can and hit him as hard as I could,” Bosa, a sophomore defensive lineman, said Saturday following the game. “I actually thought he got the ball off so I stood up and went to walk back to the line, but I saw the ball pop out.”
The play not only electrified the fans and gave OSU a 16-7 lead, but it seemed to ignite the defense for a stretch in the first quarter as the Buckeyes forced the Bearcats into two straight punts.
Co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell said Monday that the play of Bosa, who leads the Buckeyes with 2.5 sacks, is at least partially because of his 6-foot-5-inch, 278-pound frame.
“He is a very dominating force. He is a guy who has the speed to get the edge, but he’s got the power to do some things inside,” Fickell said. “It is an unbelievable combination. I haven’t seen a whole lot of guys like it, but we are still going to expect him to continue to grow.”
Junior cornerback Armani Reeves said Bosa’s play on the field makes him glad Bosa’s a Buckeye.
“He’s a freak. He is a great player and when you see him (make) those hits like that … it’s like watching greatness,” Reeves said Monday. “I am just happy he is on our side.”
Coach Urban Meyer acknowledged Bosa’s physical skills, but added the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., product is also successful because of his upbringing.
“He just goes, he practices that way from day one. It’s a product of, you know, his family. His dad’s got an incredible football background,” Meyer said Monday. “I thought we’d have a guy that would be pretty much game-ready because he went to a really quality high school program.”
Bosa’s high school, St. Thomas Aquinas, has been known to produce high-quality football talent, including former OSU safety Nate Salley, former Wisconsin player and current New England Patriot running back James White and former Chicago Bear Brian Piccolo, who was the inspiration for the movie “Brian’s Song.”
Meyer also said that while he believed Bosa would be ready to play coming out of high school, he is still impressed with how the sophomore has performed so far.
“I didn’t imagine it to be this ready,” Meyer said. “He’s extremely strong and quick and relentless. And on top of that. he loves and understands the game.”
Meyer has coached an impressive array of defensive linemen in his coaching career, including two at Florida who were first-round draft picks (Jarvis Moss, Denver, 2007 and Derrick Harvey, Jacksonville, 2008), however, he said Bosa reminds him most of a player he has coached at OSU.
“I think John Simon. He’s a little more talented than John, a little longer,” Meyer said. “But John Simon had that same — you watch those two play in practice and compete and there’s a mindset.
“Those are two good people to be in company, everybody knows how we all feel about John Simon. But to even mention someone in that same vein, who is a few inches taller and a little longer, that’s pretty rare air, those two guys.”
Meyer’s comparison could be spot on, as Simon led the Buckeyes in sacks during his senior season in Columbus, something Bosa is on pace to do just two years later.
With such high praise and potential, Fickell said he, along with the rest of the coaching staff, is expecting even more from Bosa, who was named OSU’s defensive player of the game following his play against Cincinnati.
“The sky is the limit for that guy with his abilities. We are going to continue to put things upon his shoulders,” Fickell said. “He goes hard, he is physical, he does all the things we ask him to do, now we are going to ask him to continue to grow — strive for greatness and not be satisfied with where you are.”
Bosa and the Buckeyes are scheduled to hit the field again Saturday at noon against the Maryland Terrapins at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md.