With Ohio State training camp coming into it’s second week, all eyes have been on Nick Bosa. Even before he takes his first collegiate snap, he is already expected to make a big impact this season. Nick is battling with Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis for a starting job. After Hubbard and Lewis combined for 14.5 sacks in 2015, Nick will likely fall into a backup role for the beginning of the 2016 season. Even with being a backup, there is still a lot of hype around Nick to replicate what his brother did. The question remains, is this hype realistic?
Can Nick Bosa Be Better Than Joey?
When Joey Bosa was a freshman, he had some pretty tough competition for a starting spot. Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence combined for 21 tackles and four sacks in 2012. Freshman Michael Hill also was starting early in the season before injuries led to his red-shirt. After Hill’s injury, Spence and Joey both had break out years. They were rarely doubled teamed due to a strong all-around defensive line. If Hill was never injured, Joey may have never gotten his chance to shine.
During Joey’s senior year of high school, he was able to stay healthy unlike Nick. Nick’s senior season ended early with an ACL tear in November. Even a slight ACL tear is something to watch out for in the future and Nick will likely be watched carefully by Urban Meyer and Larry Johnson. If anything, it may limit Nick’s snaps unlike Joey’s freshman year.
When Joey came to Ohio State, he switched positions from defensive tackle. The reason for this change was due to the deep depth at the position. Joel Hale, Michael Bennett, and Tommy Schutt all were viable options for starting. Because of the position change, Mike Vrabel and Luke Fickell were hesitant to give him starting snaps. While Joey certainly excelled more as an end than a tackle, the position change did hinder his chances of extra snaps early on in his freshman year.
One of the best scouts to compare Joey and Nick would be their father, John Bosa. He has watched both of them excel in high school and Joey do the same in college. John has said that Nick has the same skill set that Joey had at the same age. The difference is that Nick will have Joey’s few mistakes to learn from. One mistake that was common throughout Joey’s career was how high he hit. Joey was not called for it much, but it did cost him his last game in the Fiesta Bowl. Changing his tackling mechanics could make Nick an even better player than his brother was in college.
If it is true that Nick has the same skill set as his brother, Ohio State may be able to get a full four years out of him. As of now, Nick is taking first team snaps but will likely be a backup for most of this year. After three seasons at Ohio State, Joey was able to secure a top three spot in the 2016 NFL Draft. Because the defensive end position is such a lucrative position in the NFL, Nick will also likely need three strong seasons as well. With an extra season, Nick will have the chance to prove he is the better Bosa.
Barring an injury to Hubbard or Lewis, Nick will likely only get significant playing time if Ohio State is winning handily. Joey was in a similar situation his freshman year but with Hill’s injury, he was able to take a starting spot. The same situation could happen for Nick this year but so far, Ohio State has remained healthy throughout camp. Bri’onte Dunn has been the only significant loss so far this off-season but that was not due to injury.
During Nick’s senior season, he tore his ACL. So far in camp, the injury has not hindered his progress but it will be something to take notice of. According to a study done by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 18.3% of all ACL Tears in the NFL are by players with a history of the injury. Because of the talent Ohio State has at the defensive end position, it may be wise for Ohio State to limit his playing time this year.
If Nick wants to prove that he is better than his brother, there will be a long road ahead of him. To do this however, Nick may need to play all four years. Even if one year is playing behind Hubbard, Nick will get the experience he needs to be better than his brother.