NCF On The Trail: joey bosa

Ultimate ESPN 300 roundtable: Most impactful B1G recruit

February, 18, 2015
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By now, you've surely seen the Ultimate ESPN 300, a list of the 300 most impactful players based on both high school and college production. The list considered players whom ESPN evaluated at both levels, so while not all 300 players were highly rated in high school, they were all somewhat known commodities.

We're all about the Big Ten here, so in the next three days we'll debate how the Ultimate ESPN 300 factors into this corner of college football.

Wednesday's roundtable topic: Which player had the biggest impact on a Big Ten program?

Adam Rittenberg: Chris Borland, Wisconsin linebacker, No. 143

Impact can be hard to quantify, as there are so many factors involved. I nearly went with former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who impacted Ohio State both positively (fans often forget how good he was in bowl games and big games) and negatively during a wild career. I also tried to find players who seemed like he played college ball for seven or eight years. Borland was one of those players. He was so good for so long, winning Big Ten freshman of the year in 2009 and Big Ten defensive player of the year in 2013. He overcame adversity, missing most of 2010 with a shoulder injury. He earned All-Big Ten honors -- coaches or media -- in all four full seasons he played.

Borland also is the quintessential Wisconsin star: an undersized, freakish athlete who grew up playing soccer and was overlooked in recruiting. He contributed from the moment he arrived in Madison and played in four bowl games and three Big Ten championship games. Although Wisconsin had more nationally famous players on the Ultimate 300 list -- J.J. Watt (No. 271), Russell Wilson (No. 187), Melvin Gordon (No. 53), Montee Ball (No. 136) -- Borland's overall legacy as a Badger trumps them all.

Brian Bennett: Christian Hackenberg, Penn State quarterback, No. 71

My choice is a little unorthodox and not entirely based on what the player has done -- yet -- on the field. I'm going with Penn State's Hackenberg. He committed to Penn State after the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke and stayed with the Nittany Lions even after the NCAA tried to decimate the program with scholarship reductions and a bowl ban. He could have easily gone somewhere else, but his faithfulness in Bill O'Brien and the program signaled to other players that it was OK to stick things out with Penn State.

Hackenberg was the Big Ten's freshman of the year in 2013 and, despite some struggles as a sophomore, still helped lead the Nittany Lions back to a bowl last season. He's got at least one more year in State College to show off his talent. Penn State fans should already be thankful for what he (and let's not forget No. 294, Michael Mauti) did to keep the entire program afloat.

Mitch Sherman: Joey Bosa, Ohio State defensive end, No. 58

What more could one guy do from his position than Bosa in helping lead the Buckeyes romp to a Big Ten title and the first College Football Playoff championship? Sure, the Ohio State quarterbacks and running back Ezekiel Elliott got many of the headlines – and deservedly so – during the 2014 championship run. But Bosa dominated from the first game of the season at defensive end, collecting 13.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

His Big Ten-best four forced fumbles led directly to 30 Ohio State points. And he did it, as a true sophomore, without fellow bookend Noah Spence, dismissed after All-Big Ten season in 2013. Opponents feared Bosa. His presence changed games. And nothing seemed to bother him. He was simply the best player on the best team in the country for the longest portion of last season.
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Many believe ESPN Junior 300 defensive Nick Bosa will be an even better college football player than his brother. That’s saying a lot because his brother is Joey Bosa, star defensive lineman for national champion Ohio State and one of the top projected picks for the 2016 NFL draft.

New Year's Day and national signing day used to be the two most disheartening days on the Big Ten football calendar.

Make no mistake, New Year's Day had been much more of a buzzkill. The Big Ten's poor results on an afternoon where it clustered its top postseason games on big stages damaged the league's reputation and depressed its fans.

National signing day had been a different kind of downer. Unlike New Year's Day, when the Big Ten's collective struggles were front and center, national signing day pushed the league off to the side. The Big Ten went from being embarrassed on Jan. 1 to being largely ignored on the first Wednesday in February.

[+] EnlargeUrban Meyer
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesOhio State raised a trophy in January and raised expectations for the Big Ten on signing day.
Of course, this was ESPN's fault, as all things were/are. ESPN's in-season obsession with all things SEC spilled into its recruiting coverage, Big Ten fans contended.

Two things to note:

1. Recruiting rankings are inherently subjective

2. The numbers don't lie. Every recruiting list shows more elite prospects in the South -- many of whom choose to play for SEC schools -- than in the Midwest

The bottom line is signing day had become more of an SEC and ACC event than a Big Ten exposition. There's a reason why every year around this time, I snarkily ask our friends in ACC country if they're ready for the biggest day on their football calendar.

But signing day 2015, arriving in just 36 hours, could have a different feel around the Big Ten. For the first time in a while, the Big Ten is the most talked-about league in the sport. Ohio State just won the first College Football Playoff national championship, securing its first title -- and the Big Ten's -- in 12 seasons. The Buckeyes capped a Big Ten bowl season that far surpassed expectations (6-5 overall, 2-0 in New Year's Six games).

Michigan made the top coaching move of the offseason by landing Jim Harbaugh. Two former Big Ten quarterbacks shined Sunday night in Super Bowl XLIX, with former Michigan signal-caller Tom Brady coming away with his fourth ring.

The Big Ten has tangible momentum that it wants to sustain through the offseason, beginning with national signing day.

How realistic is that goal?

Signing day is largely about hype, and the Big Ten undoubtedly will be discussed more this year than in the past.

Ohio State's class, ranked No. 7 nationally by ESPN RecruitingNation, will be examined as the Buckeyes bring in standouts such as Justin Hilliard and Jashon Cornell, and hope to keep Torrance Gibson. Unlike many Big Ten coaches, Ohio State's Urban Meyer eschews redshirting and has quickly turned young players into key contributors. Meyer's first full class in 2013 -- featuring Joey Bosa, J.T. Barrett, Ezekiel Elliott, Vonn Bell, Jalin Marshall and Darron Lee -- played a huge role in this year's title run.

Michigan's first class under Harbaugh also will be in the spotlight. It will be small -- the Wolverines have only nine verbal commitments -- but Harbaugh already has bolstered the quarterback spot with Zach Gentry, who had originally picked Texas. Michigan could finish strong with tight end Chris Clark, linebacker Roquan Smith and cornerback Iman Marshall, all of whom are announcing their decisions on signing day.

James Franklin's first full class at Penn State should get Lions fans excited for the future. Franklin and his staff put much of the group together last spring, landing 13 commitments before the end of May. They've upgraded their top problem unit, offensive line, with recruitsSterling Jenkins and Ryan Bates, to go along with junior college transfer Paris Palmer.

Michigan State is arguably the nation's top player development program. But after consecutive top-5 finishes, the Spartans' recruiting efforts are getting noticed. MSU is poised to sign a top-30 class and might have locked up its future offensive backfield with quarterback Brian Lewerke and running back L.J. Scott. Twin brothers Andrew and David Dowell, one-time Northwestern and Kentucky commits, recently switched their pledge to MSU.

Wisconsin and Nebraska also could end up among ESPN RecruitingNation's top 30 classes. Not surprisingly, the Badgers have seen attrition in their class after the surprising departure of coach Gary Andersen to Oregon State, but they've bolstered their offense with running backs Bradrick Shaw and Jordan Stevenson, tight end Kyle Penniston and quarterback Austin Kafentzis. Nebraska also went through a coaching change but has made a nice push under Mike Riley and his innovative recruiting approach, landing offensive lineman Jalin Barnett and holding onto defensive back Eric Lee and others.

As colleague Mitch Sherman wrote last week, Big Ten coaches had no consensus about whether the league's recent on-field surge would improve recruiting, especially for non-traditional powers. Maryland, despite losing two recruits to Indiana this past weekend, will be a program to watch Wednesday as linemen Austrian Robinson and Isaiah Prince make their decisions. Illinois hopes to upgrade its defensive line with Jamal Milan, who also is considering Minnesota and Indiana. Minnesota, Rutgers, Northwestern, Indiana and others look to lock up solid classes on Wednesday.

There will be Big Ten teams that don't move the needle regionally or nationally, as there are every year. But there's optimism about the league's overall recruiting efforts, fueled by the bowl/playoff momentum.

The Big Ten changed its fortunes on New Year's Day. National signing day looms, and league should gain a greater market share of the spotlight, providing a springboard to the offseason.

South Florida is arguably the most fertile area in the country for recruiting, and college football coaches annually flock to the talent-rich area to try to land a small piece of a very large pie. The large area located south of Lake Okeechobee that includes the football hotbeds of Broward, Palm Beach and Dade counties has produced 45 ESPN 300 members in the last two recruiting cycles and almost half (22) signed with out-of-state schools.


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Derek Barnett (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy) might already know what it’s like to play for Ohio State.

The 6-foot-3, 269-pound defensive end can’t help himself because he received an earful from his grandfather Gerald Kasunic growing up. See, Kasunic played for the Buckeyes in the early 1960s so the scarlet and gray has always been a topic of discussion in the Barnett household.

A fan of the Buckeyes, Barnett has heard the stories. Just how many, he’s not sure.

So when Ohio State called with an offer on Wednesday, it took him back a bit.


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Ohio State is nothing new to ESPN Watch List defensive end Verondtae Wilkinson (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison), but the Buckeyes certainly opened his eyes on Thursday.

In town for an unofficial visit, Wilkinson thought he knew the ins and outs of Ohio State. His former teammate Cam Burrows is now a cornerback for the Buckeyes, so it should have been the same old same old right?

Wrong.


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2014 Michigan DE picks Buckeyes 

February, 10, 2013
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Urban Meyer picked up his second junior in the trenches and raided Michigan again.


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Ohio State: Luke Fickell top recruiter 

February, 7, 2013
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Recruits and colleges can be fickle friends. At Ohio State, Fickell friends are the best friends to have.

If there is anyone in Ohio who understands what scarlet-and-gray fever is about, it is Luke Fickell.

[+] EnlargeOhio State's Luke Fickell
Greg Bartram/US PRESSWIRELuke Fickell is a crucial part of Ohio State's recruiting prowess.
He played nose guard for Ohio State in the 1990s. He was the interim coach for the Buckeyes in 2011 and has been with the team in some facet since 2002.

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When Vonn Bell (Rossville, Ga./Ridgeland) announced he was planning to take official visits to Alabama, Ohio State and Tennessee shortly after his team’s state runner-up finish, BuckeyeNation said the trip to Ohio would be important.

Developments since then prove just how vital this weekend will be for the Buckeyes as they try to round out an already stellar defensive recruiting class by adding the ESPN 150 safety.


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Hackenberg, Olsen earn UA Game starts

January, 3, 2013
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Black Team offense

Quarterback: Christian Hackenberg (Penn State)

Running back: Alvin Kamara

Receiver: Alvin Bailey (Florida), Robert Foster (Alabama), Damore'ea Stringfellow (Washington)

Tight end: O.J. Howard (Alabama)

Offensive tackle: Darius James (Texas), Denver Kirkland

Offensive guard: Grant Hill (Alabama), Joas Aguilar (Texas A&M)

Center: Hunter Bivin (Notre Dame)

Captains: Kelvin Taylor, Hunter Bivin, Robert Nkemdiche, Ben Boulware

Black Team defense

Defensive end: Robert Nkemdiche, Elijah Daniel

Defensive tackle: Greg Gilgmore (LSU), Kennedy Tulimasealii (Hawaii)

Inside linebacker: Ben Boulware (Clemson)

Outside linebacker: Alex Anzalone (Notre Dame), Matthew Thomas

Safety: Keanu Neal (Florida), Leon McQuay III

Cornerback: Vernon Hargreaves III (Florida), Tarean Folston (Notre Dame)

Black Team special teams

Long snapper: Tyler Kluver (Iowa)

Kicker/punter: Sean Covington (UCLA)

White Team offense

Quarterback: Kevin Olsen (Miami)

Running back: Keith Ford (Oklahoma)

Receiver: Laquon Treadwell, Ryan Green (Florida State), Jalin Marshall (Ohio State)

Tight end: Hunter Henry (Arkansas)

Offensive tackle: Derwin Gray (Maryland), Dorian Johnson (Pittsburgh)

Offensive guard: Patrick Kugler (Michigan), David Dawson (Michigan)

Center: Scott Quessenberry (UCLA)

White Team defense

Defensive end: Carl Lawson (Auburn), Joey Bosa (Ohio State)

Defensive tackle: Henry Poggi (Michigan), Kelsey Griffin (South Carolina)

Inside linebacker: Reuben Foster, Yannick Ngakoue

Outside linebacker: Trey Johnson

Safety: Max Redfield, Antonio Conner

Cornerback: Gareon Conley (Ohio State), Shaq Wiggins (Georgia)

White Team special teams

Long snapper: Brendan Turelli

Kicker: Ryan Santoso (Minnesota)

Punter: Shane Tripucka

Captains: Ryan Green, Hunter Henry, Patrick Kugler, Reuben Foster

Under Armour spotlight: Joey Bosa 

January, 2, 2013
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Joey Bosa (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) will stay in his home state this weekend for his all-star game, but the ESPN 150 defensive tackle will do so with the attitude that made him a state champion this season.

A hard-nosed senior, Bosa joins an Ohio State fearsome five of Jalin Marshall, Marcus Baugh, Gareon Conley and Cam Burrows in the Under Armour All-America Game on Friday and will do so with the idea of proving his rankings are exactly where they should be.


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Under Armour spotlight: Gareon Conley 

January, 1, 2013
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Gareon Conley (Massillon, Ohio/Washington) doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder, but the ESPN 150 cornerback is in Florida this week ready to prove he belongs ... as a wide receiver.

Originally a Michigan commit, Conley was recruited by Ohio State as an athlete for his unbelievable ability at the wideout position as well. The 6-foot-1, 165-pound Conley committed to the Buckeyes on Dec. 7 after a whirlwind courtship by Urban Meyer and his staff. He accepted his Under Armour jersey Oct. 18. Conley is ranked No. 62 overall and is the ninth-best cover corner in the nation according to ESPN.


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Scouts: Buckeyes add Munger to DL 

December, 9, 2012
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On the heels of landing ESPN 150 cornerback Gareon Conley (Massillon, Ohio/Washington), Ohio State picked up another verbal from an in-state defensive prospect as ESPN 300 defensive tackle Donovan Munger (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Shaker Heights) committed Sunday.

When Conley announced his decision, we mentioned that the Buckeyes' 2013 class is continuing to be defined by its strength among the ‘skilled’ positions, but there is still a noticeable push to strengthen the defensive trenches in Columbus, especially inside. With players like Joey Bosa (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) and Michael Hill (Pendleton, S.C./Pendleton) already on board, they now add Munger, a big man who can develop into a productive and steady presence inside.

Some time in the Buckeyes weight program should greatly benefit him and it would likely be ideal if they can redshirt Munger. However, the four-star uses his hands well and displays some headiness to aid his physical ability to help him be active and productive in the trenches. Best at this stage as a run defender, but shows some flashes as an interior pass rusher.

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DT Donovan Munger fills hole, literally 

December, 9, 2012
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Urban Meyer likes his football team with enough defensive linemen to go from one sideline to the next. With the addition of defensive tackle Donovan Munger (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Shaker Heights), the two-time national champion coach might be able to do just that.

Munger, a four-star ESPN 300 prospect, became the sixth defensive lineman to give his pledge to the Buckeyes on Sunday, joining Billy Price (Youngstown, Ohio/Austintown-Fitch), Tracy Sprinkle (Elyria, Ohio/Elyria), Michael Hill (Pendleton, S.C./Pendleton), Joey Bosa (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) and hybrid Tyquan Lewis (Tarboro, N.C./Tarboro) in the trenches from the recruiting class of 2013.

Munger is a wide-bodied defensive tackle with a motor that rarely takes time off. His frame fits perfectly in the interior line at 6-foot-3, 280 pounds.

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Donovan Munger commits to Ohio State 

December, 9, 2012
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Ohio State stayed on defense Sunday when it picked up its 19th commit in the class of 2013.

Two days after Gareon Conley picked the Buckeyes, this one came on the defensive line as ESPN 300 defensive tackle Donovan Munger (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Shaker Heights) gave his pledge to the Buckeyes after taking his official visit to Columbus over the weekend.

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