The revelation Nick Bosa will not play for Ohio State again is a devastating blow to the Buckeyes’ national championship hopes.
Since Bosa went down with a core muscle injury in week three, the difference between good, great and elite players has been on display for the now second-ranked Buckeyes.
Urban Meyer has recruited lots of a great player players, but few anywhere are truly elite.
Bosa was one of a pair of defensive players (joining Houston’s Ed Oliver) to get Heisman Trophy odds from Bovada, and he showed why in his brief time on the field in 2018.
He is still third on the team in tackles for loss (six) and tied for second in sacks (four) despite playing only about three of a potential 14 halves this season.
Bosa’s combination of size, strength, speed, quickness and drive are rarely seen all together.
The teaching of Larry Johnson also gave him a leg up on the competition as former Buckeyes including Sam Hubbard and Bosa’s older brother, Joey, have arrived in the NFL with tools that intrigued their new teammates and coaches.
Of course, the cupboard is not bare.
Ohio State has two more five-star defensive line prospects (sophomore Chase Young and freshman Taron Vincent) along with 11 four-stars for Johnson to groom.
That is not even including starting tackle Robert Landers, a three-star prospect from Wayne High School who has been one of Ohio State’s most productive players over the past two-plus seasons.
Landers, though, has been hindered by an injury much of the season.
So has fellow tackle Dre’Mont Jones.
End Jonathon Cooper missed last week’s win over Minnesota, but he is expected to suit up this week at Purdue.
He and Young are in larger roles without Bosa around.
Four-star prospect Tyreke Smith has also flashed a few times as a true freshman, but the Buckeyes are going to need more from those three and others in the second half of the season to remain on track to achieve all of their goals.
Of course, the onus is not just on the line to play better.
Bosa’s dominance could have given a young back seven some cover as multiple Buckeyes play through mistakes.
Questions about the Ohio State scheme will continue in the second half of the season, and perhaps the knowledge Bosa isn’t coming back will make defensive coordinator Greg Schiano rethink how much he can afford to maintain the status quo.
There’s also the possibility Bosa’s absence ultimately has a positive effect on one or more of his teammates.
Sometimes teammates of dominant players — without even realizing it — relax a bit waiting for Superman to make the play.
Will knowing that can’t happen cause one or more Buckeyes to raise their level of play?
Only time will tell.
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