- By Tom Archdeacon Staff Writer
A little boy’s decision gave Blake Brandel a big headache Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
Blandel is the 6-foot-7, 307-pound left tackle for Oregon State and almost certainly a mid-round draft pick next year.
That is unless he played each week against Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa, who flipped him around like a rag doll in the first half of Saturday’s season opener.
If Bosa wasn’t shoving Blandel aside, he was running around him and the guys who paid the real price were the Beavers quarterbacks.
On the fifth play of the game Bosa and a pair of teammates converged on Oregon State starter Jake Luton and roughly upended him. A play later he fumbled and Bosa recovered the ball.
After that, Luton limped to the bench and never returned.
In the second quarter, Bosa picked up a fumble near the goal line by Conor Blount, Luton’s replacement, and he dove into the end zone for a score.
The play changed the momentum of the game said Ryan Day, the Buckeyes interim head coach who has taken over while Urban Meyer serves a three-game suspension.
Playing just the first half of Ohio State’s 77-31 victory over the Beavers, Bosa had four tackles, two sacks, recovered two fumbles and scored his first collegiate touchdown. All that solidifies that decision he made as a 7-year-old growing up in Fort Lauderdale.
The first day he went out for football, his coach told him he’d be playing offense. But before he took the field, Nick – whose dad, John, had been a star defensive end at Boston College and a first round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins in 1987 – said, “No.” He wanted to play defense.
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The coach made the switch and Bosa has been a defender since.
Today he is one of the best defensive players in the college game and – in part because of a dearth of franchise-changing quarterback prospects that will be eligible — may be the first overall pick in the NFL’s 2019 talent grab.
After Saturday’s game – which was delayed 72 minutes by heavy rainfall and distant lightning that cleared almost all of the 102,169 spectators from their Horseshoe seats – Bosa recalled that decision as a kid.
“Yeah, I was seven years old and it was probably just because of what my dad did,” he said, before smiling. “And I never really liked O-lineman that much anyway.”
Saturday he proved that again and that’s why, at least for a day, Ohio State has some new names in the headlines.
Instead of Meyer and Zach and Courtney Smith, the Buckeyes’ newsmakers Saturday were Bosa, new quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr, running back Mike Weber and receiver Terry McLaurin.
Haskins – the backup to J. T. Barrett last season – firmly grabbed hold of the starting quarterback’s job, throwing for 313 yards and five touchdowns, both records for a quarterback in his first start at OSU.
Weber ran for 186 yards and three TDs and McLaurin caught four passes for 121 yards and two scores.
Bosa didn’t play at all in the second half, but it didn’t matter. He had stamped his presence on this game in the first two quarters.
Although the Bucks had four guys sharing the two defensive end spots last year, Bosa made such a splash when he was on the field that he won first team All America honors at season’s end.
Now he’s off to an even more dynamic start.
And along with the skills, the stats and the honors, he has the genes.
Besides his dad, his uncle, Eric Kumerow, was a first-round pick of Miami in 1988.
And his brother Joey – 23 months older and a All American himself at OSU – was a first-round pick of Chargers and was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year even though he missed the first four games of the season. He had 10. 5 sacks that season, 12.5 last season and now is considered one of the top five defensive ends in the NFL,
And yet, Nick – just 20 years old – may be the most talented player in the family.
His brother Joey has said that in the past and privately OSU coaches will concur.
Nick said he feels the weight of the build-up:
“There’s definitely a lot of pressure, but then you go out and just have fun like today and it feels pretty good. And it’s exciting to know each week we get to go out and do this again.”
While the brass at Ohio State look forward to that – anything to momentarily get the focus off the discipline meted out on Meyer — you can be sure the rest of the left tackles left on the OSU schedule aren’t feeling that great about an afternoon with Nick Bosa.