COLUMBUS, Ohio — Nick Bosa is no stranger to Ohio State history.
The nephew of Buckeye great Eric Kumerow and the brother of one of the best defensive players in school history, you could say the Ohio State freshman defensive end has it in his blood.
But as far as Nick’s own legacy in Columbus is concerned, Saturday may very well be remembered as the start of the second act in the Bosa era for the Buckeyes. Tallying 4 tackles, 1.5 of which came for a loss, including a stop on a crucial red-zone stand that helped seal Ohio State’s 38-17 win over Indiana, the freshman had the best day thus far of what’s already been a strong start to his college career.
“It was awesome,” Bosa said of his 2-yard tackle-for-loss against Hoosiers running back Devine Redding, which came on fourth-and-goal from the 4-yard line as Indiana threatened to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to one score with less than 11 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. “I just got off the ball and knocked him back.”
The name ‘Nick Bosa’ isn’t new to fans of Ohio State, many of whom were well aware that Joey Bosa’s kid brother was a highly touted prospect dating back to Joey’s breakout freshman season with the Buckeyes in 2013. The older Bosa’s rise to becoming one of college football’s top defenders and the third overall pick in last spring’s NFL draft coincided with the younger brother’s own ascension as a 5-star prospect, the top-ranked defensive end and the nation’s No. 8 overall player in the 2016 class.
You’d have to go back to Braxton Miller or perhaps even Chris Spielman to find a recruit who arrived at Ohio State with more fanfare. Fair or not, the hype for Nick Bosa was born long before he ever came to Columbus.
“Obviously he’s a guy that, the last name, high expectations,” Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer said of Nick on Saturday. “I think he’s starting to fulfill them.”
That’s not to say the 6-foot-4, 265-pound Bosa hasn’t embraced them. After all, he not only plays the family position as a defensive lineman, but dons the same No. 97 his brother wore for the Buckeyes and his dad, John, wore during his time at Boston College and with the Miami Dolphins.
As Nick met with reporters on Saturday for the first time since the 2016 season started, he knew the questions about his last name were coming. Taking a page from his big brother’s signature celebration, Nick shrugged them off, refusing to fit into a predetermined narrative.
“I didn’t really listen to the hype too much,” he said. “[Buckeyes defensive line coach Larry Johnson] made it really easy to transition. We knew there was going to be some pressure, but I just worked with him to make me better and my teammates really helped.”
For Nick, the same old questions shouldn’t last long. Even coming off an ACL injury that brought his high school career at Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas to an early end, Bosa has been better than advertised through the first five games of his college career — and only appears to be getting better.
The comparison to his big brother is a natural one and while Joey also played right away as a true freshman, that’s really where the similarities between their respective freshman seasons end. While Joey slid into the Ohio State starting lineup at his natural position as a defensive end, Nick has been primarily playing defensive tackle, both in obvious rush situations and goal-line packages.
Yet despite playing in a less stat-friendly spot, Nick already has two more tackles (13), two more tackles for a loss (4) and two more sacks (2) than Joey had through the first five games of his own college career.
At some point the constant comparisons will stop, perhaps sooner rather than later. On Sunday, Joey’s professional career will finally begin as he’ll make his season debut for the San Diego Chargers against the Oakland Raiders.
More than 2,400 miles away, his biggest fan won’t be watching.
Instead, he’ll be focused on continuing to write his own chapter in Ohio State history.
“I’m going to be at practice,” Nick said.