He’s imposing, of course, at 6-5, 278 pounds. The Ohio State defensive end has long hair and scruffy facial hair at times, and he measures his words in a way that don’t often fill up a reporter’s notebook or recording device.
But there’s constant laughter around Bosa when he does speak with the media, mostly because of the matter-of-fact, bemused way he deals with some of the more ridiculous things that come up on the job.
“Sarcastic prick,” his roommate, Ezekiel Elliott, said with a laugh when asked to describe Bosa earlier this year.
Even his signature sack move, the shrug emoji – you know, ¯\_(?)_/¯ – is almost a trolling move, a deadpan “Hey, what can I do with all this talent?” directed toward the other team.
But that’s just Bosa. If you’re looking for the rah-rah guy who wears his heart on his sleeve, you’re looking for a different guy. If you’re looking for the calm, cool, collected guy who can still change a game in a flash with his stunning combination of power and agility, that’s Bosa.
“I’m a pretty laid-back guy I guess,” Bosa said this week. “You guys could probably tell by the way I just talk and present myself. I’m just laid-back and chill. You can ask anyone. I guess they’re going to say the same thing, but obviously you need to bring up the intensity a bit when you get on the field. Like I said, I’m chill before the games and I don’t get too crazy.”
Bosa tried getting too crazy once this year. It didn’t work.
Before the Buckeyes played Michigan State, obviously a circled game on the Ohio State calendar, Bosa had the energy flowing. He ended up being a nonfactor for the most part, seeing his school-record-tying streak of games with a tackle for loss snapped and thus finishing without a sack, though the Buckeyes still posted a 49-37 victory.
“I’d say the Michigan State game this year, I was worked up like crazy and I didn’t come out too well,” he said. “I just slowly calmed down at halftime and started playing better. Ever since then especially, I try to be super calm
“I like staying focused and not just blowing all my energy. When I’m calm and I’m not really worked up, I play my best, I think.”
Bosa said he’s the calmest guy in the locker room, in fact, before every game, joking with his teammates and bringing reality to an adrenaline-fueled situation.
“I just try to joke around with myself and with everyone else,” he said. “It’s just another game. We’re going out there and playing football. It’s something we do every single day of our life. We shouldn’t be all worked up about it today.”
Maybe that attitude comes from his days in his first love – baseball. A catcher growing up – imagine those 280 pounds lining up behind the plate and launching massive home runs – Bosa played until he reached seventh grade when “I was on such a horrible team that I played tennis just so I wouldn’t have to play baseball.”
The son and a nephew of NFL defensive linemen, Bosa seemed obviously blessed with the size to try football, so he eased himself into that world. He first burst onto the scene at 15 when he attended a camp at a college football power and despite never playing a varsity snap at Florida power Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas left with a scholarship offer.
That school, of course, was Alabama.
“I went to camp and I guess I did well, or (Nick) Saban can tell the future or something,” Bosa said in that deadpan. “It was just so shocking to me when I got called in the office. I didn’t really get it until I walked out of there, and I was just like, ‘Oh my god, the best team in the entire country just offered me a scholarship and I haven’t even played a snap on varsity.’ It was weird.”
It’s no longer weird. A finalist for major honors like the Ted Hendricks Award (nation’s best defensive end), Lombardi Award (best lineman) and Bednarik Award (best defensive player) and unanimous All-American, Bosa will be a major storyline no matter what he does in the Sugar Bowl against the Crimson Tide tonight.
Just don’t expect him to get all worked up about it.