Golden Tickets: Joey Bosa

Ohio State sophomore defensive end Joey Bosa entered the 2013 season as a highly touted prospect who was untested at the college level and exited as a freshman All-American. He's gunning for an even better showing this fall but will have to deal with opposing defenses who will have their eye on shutting him down.

After Ohio State's April 12 spring game, head coach Urban Meyer pointed to seven players as having spots sewn up on his defense as the team heads into summer workouts. Those seven players earned what we're calling Golden Tickets to start on a defense that has its sights set on returning the Buckeye stop troops to Silver Bullet status. We're profiling each of those seven players as well as taking a look at the remaining position battles in a series this week.

Joey Bosa
Position: Defensive end
Height: 6-5
Weight: 285
Hometown/HS: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Previous Stats: Bosa finished with 44 tackles as a true freshman, and his 7.5 sacks for 58 yards ranked second on the team. He also notched 13.5 tackles for loss for a total of 71 yards and recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.

What They're Saying: Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is no stranger to hyperbole, but Bosa's accomplishments and abilities are difficult to overstate.

In an interview with CBSSports.com's Jeremy Fowler on March 24, Meyer had the following to say about his star defensive end: "Could be as good a defensive lineman I've ever coached. He can be as good as there is."

Bosa certainly backed up that sentiment in 2013 with a memorable campaign that helped garner him freshman All-American honors. He racked up 7.5 sacks, a number that ranked only half a sack behind team leader Noah Spence, and proved to be a force to be reckoned with as the season went on.

The hype soon followed, and Meyer hasn't been shy about praising the guy who put together one of the most productive freshman seasons in recent memory for the Buckeyes. That works for new defensive line coach Larry Johnson, who views himself as the man responsible for tempering the expectations surrounding the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native.

"As long as he can handle (the praise)," Johnson laughed when asked if he ever worried about Meyer's effusive words towards Bosa. "I'm the guy to calm the storm."

Johnson's mind-set is different than his predecessor Mike Vrabel's – "He's more positive, I dare say," Bosa deadpanned about Johnson – and that approach has helped to make the transition a smooth one.

"Coach J is super positive, so he's never really tearing anyone down. The coaches have been much more positive and trying to coach and make us better instead of tearing us down, so it's been a very positive spring."

Even without harsh words, Johnson hasn't had to worry about accolades going to Bosa's head. The soft-spoken freshman is naturally shy to begin with, and his teammates have taken it upon themselves to make sure that he maintains his modest, laid-back personality.

"It's great to get all this attention and everything but it never really affected me," he said. "I'm still a freshman. They still pick on me. I'm still just a new kid pretty much."

Next year, however, that won't be the case. In 2013, Bosa took the Big Ten by storm as an unknown quantity. Even though he came to Columbus with a five-star pedigree, he'd never played a down of college football. This fall, he'll face teams who recognize him as one of the biggest threats on the field and devise specific game plans centered around stopping him.

Getting Bosa to a level where he can replicate 2013's success even with the increased attention is a challenge that both Johnson and his star protégé relish. Bosa has shown no signs of complacency and is working to sharpen his game in time for another season of harassing opposing quarterbacks.

"I think the key is that he doesn't stay the same," Johnson said. "He's got to move forward. The thing he and I talk about is we've got to forget about last year. It's about this year, and every time you step on the field you've got to be a better player. He's going to be a marked guy. They're going to turn protection to him and they're going to be chipping him. He'll see a different game than he saw last year because they'll know who he is, so he's got to get prepared for that. But right now he's doing a good job of working for us."

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