Nick Bosa, known for his quick takeoff on the pass rush, added a move to his repertoire, the Freudian slip, as Ohio State dived into its 2018 winter conditioning program.
“This year is going to be full-out, play every snap, if that means anything, for my last year,” Bosa said. He then caught himself, smiled and rephrased: “Possibly my last year.”
As the junior defensive end explained later, the thought of moving on to the NFL — perhaps leaving with a year of eligibility remaining, just as older brother Joey did in 2016 — has long been a part of his thinking.
“It’s always been my goal since I was a kid,” Nick Bosa said. “But I’m not hurrying to get out. I’m enjoying my time here.”
Bosa, arguably the most-notable player returning for Ohio State, also has unfinished business.
“It could be my last opportunity to go play for a national championship, and I’ve never done that,” Bosa said. “It’s definitely all-out this year.”
While Joey was part of the 2014 national-title team, Nick Bosa and his teammates have fallen short the past two years.
When Bosa was a freshman, OSU was smashed 31-0 by Clemson in a College Football Playoff semifinal. The Buckeyes narrowly missed the playoff last season and settled for a Cotton Bowl win over Southern California.
“We want to be looked at as an Alabama or a Clemson a couple years ago,” Bosa said. “We’re trying to get to the top, not just the top five.”
The Buckeyes have a solid group of returning starters, but there's a big hole on offense with the departure of quarterback J.T. Barrett. Dwayne Haskins Jr., Joe Burrow and Tate Martell are expected to compete for the starting position in spring practices.
“As long as there are leaders on the offense and leaders on the defense, you don’t even have to be a starter to be leader,” said Bosa, who is already considered a defensive leader. “But you definitely want to know who’s your guy at some point.”
Haskins is considered the front-runner at quarterback at this early stage, and Bosa believes Haskins fits the mold of what an Ohio State quarterback should be.
“He’s a drop-back passer, and I think that’s what we should be, a team that throws the ball with the quarterback and runs the ball with the running backs,” Bosa said.