In 2012, as a high school freshman, Nick Bosa was spending his days watching his older brother Joey as he prepared to move on from St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale) to Columbus and begin life as a Buckeye. The younger Bosa, offered by Ohio State that year, was a Buckeye fan through and through and he knew that eventually there was a chance he’d be following Joey’s path to Ohio State, wearing the scarlet No. 97 and terrorizing Big Ten quarterbacks.
What Bosa may not have known was that, just about 1300 miles away in Rahway, N.J., a young defensive end from the Garden State was watching him and hoping to maybe one day follow in Nick’s footsteps. That player, 2019 4-star defensive end Antonio Alfano, will be a sophomore at Bergen Catholic High School in New Jersey this fall and, like Nick Bosa, earned an Ohio State offer very early in his high school career. The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Alfano got his following Ohio State’s 2016 version of Friday Night Lights and he told Landof10 that the chance to follow Bosa in that respect, getting offered by the Buckeyes as a freshman, is something he considers an honor. He donned that scarlet No. 97 during his visit for photos, a nod to the player he grew up watching and perhaps a hint of his future.
— Antonio Alfano (@Antonioalfano99) July 22, 2016
“I usually wear No. 99,” Alfano said. “I put on No. 97 because I’m a fan of Nick Bosa.”
Not Joey, as you’d expect, but the incoming freshman, yet-to-play-a-game, Nick. Alfano isn’t going to come right out and say he’s the same type of player as Bosa, but he knows that this offer from Ohio State, this opportunity to be viewed as the potential peer of a player he view so highly, is unique.
“It is special,” Alfano said of the offer. “It means that Ohio State views me as a similar special player as him. I watched him play against Don Bosco at West Point and I was very impressed. I remember watching his hands and his skill set at that game and seeing him make a lot of plays, it was very impressive. It motivated me to try and be that good. It’s not often that freshman get offered. I met him briefly, just shook his hand during camp.”
Meeting Bosa was cool, but for Alfano, offered by Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson, Sr. the opportunity to work with the legendary defensive line coach and Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer was memorable.
“Larry Johnson told me he loved my work-ethic and that he thinks I can develop into a special player,” Alfano said. “My entire visit was great. I got to see the campus, the football facilities, and meet a lot of coaches and players. I’m very impressed with the program, including the academic support. Their coaches are special. Larry Johnson, Sr., Greg Schiano, and Urban Meyer. They’re all good guys.”
Alfano said that Meyer lived up to his substantial hype.
“Urban Meyer is great,” the rising sophomore said. “He’s a down to earth guy and the type of guy who will take care of you if you work hard and give it all you got.
There’s a long way to go before Antonio Alfano makes a college decision, but it’s clear that for a number of reasons he’s a player worth watching closely for Ohio State fans. He’s got offers from Penn State, Rutgers, Duke, Boston College and Virginia Tech already – and he’s going to end up with many more, but right now the Buckeyes are definitely on his mind.
“Without being specific,” Alfano added. “Ohio State is near the top of the list. It means the world to me to get that offer this early. It tells me that if I continue to work hard and train that I can be something special.”
Alfano says he’d like to get back to Ohio State for a game this Fall, but that can’t be his priority right now. His sophomore season is almost here and that’s what needs his attention.
“I’m hoping to get back there for a game this season and I’m looking forward to seeing a game in front of a full house of fans, I’ve heard it’s crazy there, but it depends on my football schedule,” he concluded. “I also have to remember that I have three more years bring Bergen Catholic a state championship, and that’s my biggest goal.”