clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Former Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa named Pepsi’s NFL Rookie of the Year

After seeing his final season in the scarlet and gray cut short due to injury, Nick Bosa was one of the most dominant defensive players in the NFL this year.

Michigan State v Ohio State Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Just three days away from closing out his rookie season by playing in the Super Bowl, former Ohio State defensive end has been named NFL Rookie of the Year. Bosa was taken with the second overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers in April’s 2019 NFL Draft, and he has been a huge reason the defense of the 49ers was one of the best in the NFL this season.

After playing in just three games for Ohio State last year, Bosa was still one of the most sought-after players heading into April’s NFL Draft. Bosa showed just why once the season began, starting 14 of 16 games for the 49ers, recording 16 tackles for loss and nine sacks. The defensive end also intercepted a pass, recovered two fumbles, and forced a fumble.

Bosa was one of five finalists selected for the award following his performance during the year. The former Buckeyes was the only defensive player selected as a finalist for the award. Joining Bosa as finalists were quarterback Kyler Murray, running backs Miles Sanders and Josh Jacobs, and wide receiver A.J. Brown. The winner of the award is determined by a fan vote.

The Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year Award has been given out annually since 2002, with Bosa being the first Ohio State player to earn the honor. Bosa is just the second defensive player to win the award, with the other being defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in 2010. The award likely won’t be the only one Bosa will be picking up this week, as he is in contention for the Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, which older brother Joey Bosa won in 2016.

“Uh no, I can’t do anything different. I don’t know if they want me to get the head up more, but my head was still up. Really can’t do anything in that situation. [Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence] is already 6-foot-6, and I’m 6-foot-1. So, you just can’t do anything about it.”

Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade via Austin Ward, Letterman Row

Ohio State looked to be firmly in control of the Fiesta Bowl against Clemson last month in the first half, but the game got turned upside down when Shaun Wade was ejected for targeting on a hit he put on quarterback quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Not only did the penalty erased Ohio State’s stop on third down, but Clemson would go on to score just a few plays later to shift the momentum of the game.

Had Wade not been ejected and Ohio State went on to win the game, and possibly the national title a few weeks later against LSU, Wade would have likely declared for the 2020 NFL Draft. Instead, Wade feels like he has some unfinished business, which led him to return to Ohio State for another year. Wade will not only be Ohio State’s top cornerback this coming year, but he will also be included in the conversation as one of the top corners in the country.

Wade’s ejection for his hit on Lawrence could also impact the rest of college football in the future. While there are no immediate changes in the works, there has been talk of altering targeting penalties so they are officiated like flagrant fouls in basketball, where a less egregious targeting penalty could be called that would allow a player to stay in the game instead of being automatically ejected.

No matter how any possible rule changes for the 2020 season shake out, expect to see Wade out on the field in the fall with something to prove. Not only will Wade be trying to help his team get back to the College Football Playoff, but he’ll be working to gain even more attention from NFL teams and become the next in a long line of Buckeye cornerbacks over the last decade to be taken in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Most of Ohio State’s offensive coaching staff has remained intact following the 2019 season, but there have been a couple changes that have been made. Quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich was hired by Texas to take over as offensive coordinator for the Longhorns on Tom Herman’s staff. To fill the void left by Yurcich, quality control coach Corey Dennis was promoted after it looked like he was on his way to join Steve Addazio’s staff at Colorado State.

Taking over Dennis’ former position is Billy Fessler, who most recently served as a grad assistant at Mississippi State. Fessler was a walk-on quarterback at Penn State, where he developed a relationship with former Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, who was the head coach at Mississippi State last year. Fessler played in just one game at Penn State, throwing a touchdown pass in a 56-0 win over Georgia State in 2017.

The news of hiring Fessler might not seem like a huge deal, but the new assistant does have ties to a couple of Ohio State’s high-profile games in 2020. Not only is there Fessler’s connection to Penn State, who Ohio State will take on in late October in State College, but he could Ryan Day some insight on what the Buckeyes’ second opponent of the season will try and do on offense. After being fired from Mississippi State after the season, Moorhead was hired by Oregon as offensive coordinator. Ohio State travels to Eugene to take on the Ducks on September 12th.

“A year ago he’s running nine routes and playing corner, and now we’re in the trenches. He’s been great and his attitude is great. I’m excited about him. He can fly.”

Ohio State linebackers coach Al Washington on Craig Young via Tony Gerdeman, The Ozone

Many Ohio State fans might not be familiar with the name Craig Young, but it’s definitely a name to keep an eye on in the future. When Ohio State recruited Young he was listed as an athlete on his recruiting profile, which meant the Buckeyes weren’t quite sure where they were going to use Young when he arrived on campus. Young caught 35 passes and 12 touchdowns as a wide receiver in high school, but his 10.7 100m speed gave him options to play on the defensive side of the football.

As a true freshman last year, Young played in 10 games, seeing some time at linebacker, on special teams, and at safety with the scout team. Most of the time when players are haven’t yet found their position on the field they are usually redshirted. The fact that Young still saw action in 10 games despite not having a true position should speak volumes about what the coaching staff thinks about Young’s ability.

Now as Young is preparing for his sophomore season, it looks like there is a better idea on how Ohio State will utilize him going forward. Linebackers coach Al Washington has spoken highly of Young and how he is progressing. The Buckeyes have plenty of depth at linebackers, which should help Young’s growth at the position, as he knows he can grow into his role. Even though Young has a number of talented players in front of him at linebacker, expect to hear the sophomore’s name a lot more this season.