INDIANAPOLIS — Nick Bosa’s doctor diagnosed it as a bilateral core injury, which is a fitting description. It really did cut to Bosa’s core.

A season that began with dreams of leading Ohio State to a national title ended without him playing a full game. Bosa rested in the second half of the Buckeyes’ two blowout victories to open the season. Then, in the first half against TCU, Bosa went down with what he knew instantly was a serious injury.

“When I got home from that TCU game, I was laying in bed, I could barely get up,” he said. “It was one of the darkest moments of my life so far.”

Surgery followed. When he realized he wouldn’t recover to play again for the Buckeyes, he left Ohio State and moved to California to be with his brother Joey and begin rehabbing for this weekend’s NFL combine.

Join the conversation at Facebook.com/BuckeyeXtra and connect with us on Twitter @BuckeyeXtra

“The toughest part is the beginning,” Bosa said Saturday. “It’s such a unique injury in that it’s literally the muscle used to breathe, to cough, to go to the bathroom. It’s your core muscle. It’s something different than I’ve dealt with before. It’s really gradual, small steps.”

The saving grace, he said, is that once the injury heals, he’s not at risk of reinjuring it. A few weeks ago, he was deemed to be fully healed.

“I’m feeling better than I’ve ever felt right now,” he said.

The injury has not kept draft analysts from projecting Bosa as the likely first pick of the NFL draft next month by Arizona.

“That would just mean so much to be to be thought of as the best player in the draft,” he said.

Bosa is participating in all drills this weekend, and he started Saturday with an impressive 29 reps in the 225-pound bench press. That’s five more reps than Joey had three years ago before his selection as the third overall pick.

Joey had 19 sacks in his first 20 pro games, an NFL record. Nick has never shied away from the expectations of being a Bosa. Their father, John, was also a first-round pick.

“There’s always pressure,” he said. “I followed Joey at St. Thomas (Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida). I followed Joey at Ohio State and now I’m following Joey into the league. I’m kind of used to it by now.”

Joey helped Ohio State to a national title in 2014. The injury deprived Nick of that chance.

Asked if he’d pondered how Ohio State’s season might have gone if he’d remained healthy, he deflected.

“I don’t like to think about that,” he said. “It was the year that I'd been waiting for my whole career. I kind of split reps my freshman and sophomore year. Coming in, I was going to be the guy. I started strong my first three games. It just got torn away from me. It’s something that I’ll always think back to.”

But now he’s ready to move on to the next stage, and he made his pitch to hear his name first when the draft begins.

“I would say I’m somebody that loves the game more than anybody,” Bosa said. “I’m going to come in and I’m going to work every day, every practice trying to find new things to better myself. If you do draft me, then you’ll have somebody who’s going to improve throughout my entire career.”

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

@brdispatch