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Football: Bosa’s decision shows priority for Ohio State players

Ohio State sophomore defensive lineman Nick Bosa (97) prepares for a Trojan offensive play in the third quarter of the 2017 Cotton Bowl against University of Southern California on Dec. 29 in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. Ohio State won 24-7. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Managing Editor of Design

Ohio State redshirt sophomore Dwayne Haskins stepped up to the table, ready to take questions like it was any other media session. It’s rare that the starting quarterback gets asked about the defensive side of the ball.

But, after the news the Ohio State defense received Tuesday, it felt necessary.

Ohio State announced Tuesday junior defensive end Nick Bosa would be withdrawing from the university to focus on rehabbing after undergoing surgery to repair a core muscle injury in September prior to the 2019 NFL Draft in April.

Haskins was quick to respond to the question.

“We prepared for Nick not coming back,” Haskins said. “But I am excited for him and his decision. I wish him the best of luck.”

But was he shocked by Bosa’s sudden departure?

“No, not really.”

Bosa had made it clear in the past that the 2018 season was going to be his last collegiate campaign, accidentally, or purposefully, in the spring, saying he was going to the draft after the year. He was leading the team in tackles (14) in the first three games of 2018, recording six tackles for loss and four sacks in that timespan.

When Bosa went down with the core muscle injury on Sept. 15 against TCU, the timetable for his return was unclear. The Ohio State defense played without him, coining the mantra of “next man up,” something that didn’t feel necessary after Bosa’s announcement.

“It’s definitely not easy, but he’s definitely going to be selfish in a way in this moment,” junior safety Jordan Fuller said. “But that’s still our brother, that’s still our captain.”

However, Bosa was always looking past Ohio State, past his collegiate career and focusing on the next level, the NFL, where his brother Joey is. Something that Nick had been seemingly destined for ever since he stepped foot onto campus.

For many players, they have to make similar decisions. Many recruits visiting Ohio State and walking in the same halls as Michael Thomas or Ezekiel Elliott, their focus is on winning a national championship, sure, but also to be prepared for the next level.

This was a priority for redshirt junior wide receiver K.J. Hill when he visited Ohio State fresh off its national championship win in 2014.

“They just showed me the development of every player that came through here in that receiving room at the time,” Hill said. “I wanted to be changed in my game like they did.”

With that, head coach Urban Meyer used this opportunity to hire coaches with NFL-level experience, coaches like offensive coordinator Ryan Day and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano to not only mentor the players and place them in an opportunity to succeed in the presence, but have the unique opportunities to mold players into being professionally ready.

Since 2014, Ohio State has had 12 first round picks, recording multiple first-round selections in four out of the five drafts, including five picks in 2016, the year Joey Bosa was selected No. 3 overall to the then-San Diego Chargers.

For Haskins, this was part of the reason he chose to come to Ohio State in the first place.

“You trust the brand, trust the program when you do go to college here that you get prepared for the next level,” Haskins said.

Schiano has seen a similar decision made to what Bosa did on Tuesday.

As Ohio State took the field to face USC in the 2017 Cotton Bowl, cornerback Denzel Ward announced he would not be participating in the game, trying to not risk injury prior to the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft.

“There’s decisions that are made, everyone has to make decisions that are the best decisions for them. I don’t think that is anything new,” Schiano said. “We have seen it happen in the last few years. It won’t be the last time we see it happen.”

Bosa decided his college career is over. He is ready to prepare for what many think could be an illustrious professional career.

Even though he left his team early, what Fuller called “selfish in a way,” Bosa’s legacy at Ohio State does not change.

“Nick, I love him. I loved coaching him,” Schiano said. “Fantastic player, one of the best I have ever coached and he’s going to heal up and be a great player at the next level.”  

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