COLUMBUS — The surprise would have been if Nick Bosa had come back and played for Ohio State later this season.
His announcement Tuesday that his college career was over and that he would focus his energies on getting ready for the NFL was not a surprise. At least it shouldn’t have been.
The surgery Bosa had for a groin injury he suffered against TCU on Sept. 15 was much more than a minor procedure. It repaired two tears.
If he had been able to come back, it probably would have been for only a game or two and chances are good he would not have been the dominant player who was performing at a level of dominance in the Buckeyes’ first three games last seen at Ohio State when his brother Joey was there.
Why risk being a top five NFL draft choice and millions of dollars for one or two games in December as a step slow version of yourself? It doesn’t make sense.
From the beginning there were other reasons to believe Bosa wasn’t coming back.
Start with the surgeon who operated on him. The Bosa family immediately went to the most noted surgeon in the country when it comes to “core” surgery, Dr. William Meyers, who has performed abdominal surgery on Adrian Peterson, Justin Verlander, Donovan McNabb, Grant Hill and many other professional athletes.
They presumably did not do that to get him back on the field at Ohio State as fast as possible. That seems like a decision made with his long-term future in mind.
Also, the Bosa family is no stranger to handling career-threatening injuries. Nick and Joey’s dad, John Bosa, also a defensive end like his sons, was a first-round draft choice of the Miami Dolphins in 1987. He had more tackles than any other Dolphins defensive lineman that year as a rookie, but then he suffered major injuries to both knees.
“I was never the same player,” John Bosa told The Palm Beach Post in 2016 a few days before the San Diego Chargers made Joey Bosa the No. 3 overall selection in the NFL draft. “Obviously, I wish better fortunes for my sons.”
If Bosa and his family were going to err on the side of caution, it is understandable. Even without a family history of career shortening injuries, it is understandable.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said he’d hoped Bosa would come back but wasn’t surprised by his decision.
Predictably, some Ohio State fans were surprised and angry about the decision. It might confuse that group, probably just a vocal fraction of OSU’s gigantic fan base, that many of Bosa’s teammates and former teammates supported his decision.
“Get money big brotha … love as always,” defensive end Chase Young tweeted.
“We got you. Don’t worry about it. You doing what’s best for you,” offensive tackle Thayer Munford tweeted.
Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Sam Hubbard, a former teammate, tweeted “One of the best teammates and competitors I’ve ever been around. Know this was a tough decision, but made the right one. Good luck bro.”
It almost certainly was a difficult decision for a college kid to make. Loyalty runs deep among teammates who spend as much time together as players in big-time college football programs do. That loyalty is built into the way they’re trained.
And a fall without football is probably the last thing Nick Bosa wanted. He was on his way to one of the great seasons ever by an Ohio State defensive lineman and the possibility of playing for a national championship was real.
A tough decision? Yes. A decision that could have some impact on Ohio State’s season? Yes. But surprising? No.