Pushed By Vrabel, Bosa Ready To Go

Ohio State defensive line coach Mike Vrabel is one of the more demanding coaches around, and he appeared to take particular interest this spring in incoming five-star prospect Joey Bosa. The fruits of that work will be seen starting Saturday, as Bosa is expected to be part of the rotation in the opener vs. Buffalo.

Twenty minutes into the first Ohio State practice of his life, Joey Bosa was not in a good place.

As he rose up to strike a tackling dummy in one of the very first drills he would take part in, Bosa found himself on the receiving end of some direct coaching from his new line coach, Mike Vrabel.

"No, too soft," Vrabel said, mixing in some of the salty language coaches have become known for on practice fields across America.

Vrabel then bent down, showing the five-star incoming freshman lineman how to deliver a powerful blow.

"The name of the game is striking. Take your hand from the ground and put it in his chest," Vrabel said before ordering Bosa to do the drill again. "Better!" he barked.

It's safe to say it was a welcome to college moment, the first of many as Bosa, a strong personality himself, has fallen under the wing of Vrabel, a fitting, demanding presence who not only holds the OSU school record for sacks but has an NFL résumé to back up his coaching.

"It's definitely a working relationship," Bosa said with a smile. "He's an awesome guy, a veteran of 14 years in the league. Whatever he says, you're going to listen to. It's good that he's on my ass because if he isn't, that means he doesn't see anything in me. You just have to take it as he cares and is trying to make you better."

It was one example of Vrabel coaching "like his hair is on fire," to use one of the third-year mentor's terms, but it works for Bosa because he's smart enough to know the coaching staff sees something in him.

And why wouldn't they? Bosa entered Ohio State with all the credentials one wants to see out of a high school recruit, including the fact that Bosa's No. 38 overall ranking from Scout.com meant he was one of three Buckeyes in the top 40 of the recruiting service's class of 2013 rankings.

Playing at Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas – one of the best programs not just in the Sunshine State but in the nation – Bosa was a 6-5, 270-pound dynamo, earning first-team all-state honors each of the past two years while racking up 51 tackles for loss and 19 sacks along the way.

In addition, Bosa is the son of a former NFL player – former first-round draft pick John Bosa – so the bloodlines are strong. No wonder head coach Urban Meyer saw fit to decree that the five-star prospect known for his intensity and effort would be part of the rotation as a true freshman.

"I imagine he'll play this year," Meyer said on Media Day, something he echoed at his Monday presser this week. "We're planning on him inside as well as outside."

That was welcome news to Bosa, who despite all the high school laurels wasn't sure what to expect when he arrived in Columbus.

"I didn't have many expectations," Bosa said. "I really didn't know what to expect, the difficulty of everything. Workouts were just so intense, and the couple of months I got to work out really prepared me. I definitely have a lot of work to do – it goes without saying – but I'm improving every day and just trying to make the team better, working hard."

It's fair to say there's a role, though, for Bosa, whose combination of size, strength and quickness allow him to work inside and outside.

Bosa's main spot is end but he spent the open parts of practice this fall working as the nose tackle in Ohio State's dime passing rushing defense.

"I've been doing pretty well at it," he said. "It's a lot different, especially with a couple of 300-pound guys blocking me, double-teaming me every time, but they have me at second-team nose for the dime package, which is third down. I'll do anything to go out on the field. It's not easy. You just have to go work hard and go as hard as you can for four to six seconds."


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