Eric D. Williams, ESPN Staff Writer 399d

Relentless drive to maximize talent has Chargers' Joey Bosa on historic pace

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Joey Bosa doesn't take his immense talent for granted.

Bosa finished with 10.5 sacks in 12 games his rookie season.

But he didn't rest on his laurels heading into his second year. The Ohio State product built a gym at his home near the headquarters of the Los Angeles Chargers, complete with a squat trainer, a set of dumbbells up to 120 pounds, a half rack of weights and a back extension machine. It even has weight room gym flooring.

He also hired a full-time trainer -- former Chargers assistant Todd Rice -- so he can focus on getting better on his own time.

Bosa doesn't have to listen to the cheery elevator music pumped into your local gym. Bosa said his play list includes Leisure, The Temples and Tame Impala.

"A lot of it has that kind of '70s rock vibe to it," Bosa said about his playlist. "I've never liked going to the gym and dealing with all of the people. So just having that gym makes it so nice and convenient for my training."

Bosa's hiring of Rice caused a bit of friction with the Chargers because the Ohio State product chose to work with him in Florida for part of his optional offseason work instead of training with his teammates.

However, Bosa credits Rice with setting up a training regimen that focused on his specific body mechanics and flexibility, which helped reduce chronic back and knee pain he experienced in his past.

"First of all, we got along as people," Bosa said about working with Rice. "But I just really started listening to the things he had to say and really giving him a shot, because that's really who I am in training and how I've always been.

"I've always been searching for answers for what's wrong with my body and all of the things that have accumulated over the years. It's just chronic stuff that I've always had to deal with that I would always be trying to fix. Once I started working with him and just learning some of the stuff he knows, my body really started to make some changes."

Bosa's home gym and hiring of a personal trainer shows his commitment to be the best.

And the Ohio State product is well on his way. Against New England two weeks ago, Bosa became the first player in NFL history to reach 19 sacks in his first 20 games.

The Chargers sent his jersey to the Pro Football Hall of Fame to commemorate the accomplishment. Bosa's plan is to keep pushing the envelope on his ability.

"Hitting any milestone means a lot," Bosa said. "That's my goal is to be the best, and I'm always trying to take it to the next level. You can never be satisfied with where you're at. So hopefully I'm going to beat whatever the leader is in sacks at 30 games."

Shy and sometimes awkward socially, Bosa doesn't seem like the ideal pitch man. But he's partnered with Met-Rx and Adidas, among other companies, and says his focus on building himself into the best pass-rusher possible can be appealing.

"He's quiet and he considers himself kind of nerdy at times," Chargers defensive line coach Giff Smith said. "But I don't really see that. He's one of the guys."

Bosa credits his father, former NFL player John Bosa, for keeping him on the right path. Bosa said he talks to his father daily.

"What he does for me is he's been through it all," Bosa said about the relationship with his father. "He's lost a lot. He's made some bad decisions and he's made some good decisions on his road. But he's going to make sure I never make those bad decisions.

"So it’s just having somebody that's been through the process. He knows what it's like to have this sort of wealth, and how it is to let it go. So he keeps me grateful for what I have. And taking care of everything outside of football, he's the best."

Smith said he did not realize how long the 6-foot-5, 280-pound Bosa was before he got a chance to coach him on the grass after the draft last year. Smith compared Bosa to Mario Williams in terms of his size and athleticism as a pass-rusher. Smith coached Williams while with the Buffalo Bills.

"His knowledge of the game is growing, as far as film study and breaking down the weakness of a tackle," Smith said. "Where he'll continue to grow is more of a mental progression than a physical progression.

"He's just scratching the surface of that, and he's really come a long ways in a year. But I think when you talk to him, that's where he's going to continue to get better -- just the knowledge of our system and our opponents will create even more of an advantage for him on game days."

One of the reasons Gus Bradley took the job as Chargers defensive coordinator was having Bosa on the roster -- a perfect fit as a defensive end in his 4-3 scheme.

"Football-wise he's just unique," Bradley said. "He is so structured and such a routine person. I mean you know before the game he's going to be out there going through his routine and how he warms up. And I think that just places him in a good mindset.

"There could be a group of people over here and they're talking about something, but his routine is far more important than that. He knows what he wants to become and how he wants to help this team, and he's very driven. I mean he sees through a straw now. He knows exactly what he wants to get done, and how to do it. And he's tremendous as far as being coachable."

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