Joey Bosa 2.0? Buzz already building around Nick Bosa at Ohio State

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Start with the family legacy, which will give him national name recognition the first time he steps on the field.

Add in the fact that his new coach at Ohio State expects him to be an instant contributor in that debut as well, if not a starter for a team with championship aspirations.

Then on top of that, pile on the projections for his career that already have the Buckeyes anticipating that he’ll arrive ahead of the pace that eventually developed his brother as a potential No. 1 draft pick.

If all that seems like too much pressure to heap on a true freshman as Nick Bosa gets set to take over for his superstar older brother Joey, Ohio State hardly seems worried about whether he can handle it. As both the hype and the expectations grow for Bosa 2.0, the Buckeyes pretty clearly believe that the little brother is more than capable of living up to the standard his big brother established -- if not exceeding it.

“Obviously Nick Bosa would be one of those guys that you would say physically coming in would have an opportunity to be up to the challenge,” co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said. “My guess is I don't think anything on the mental or pressure side would affect him. Nick is a mature kid that I don't think will bat an eye coming in here. Whether he wears the No. 97, whether he looks like Joey or walks like Joey, the reality is he's Nick. He's grown up with this his whole life.”

Whether Nick Bosa also grows into a potential top draft pick down the road remains to be seen. And with a couple other talented defensive ends with starting experience already on campus, the Buckeyes don’t exactly need him to provide junior-level, Joey Bosa-type production right away.

But even as he returns from a knee injury that cut short his final season in high school, Ohio State is banking on their new Bosa to break into the rotation and make an early impact. And just like when his brother arrived, the combination of an Ohio State roster that skews young and Bosa’s college-ready athleticism should allow for the No. 3 overall recruit in the country to make a splash right away.

“He's playing,” coach Urban Meyer said. "He had the knee injury, but he's well ahead of schedule. Looks fantastic, and he's a little ahead of his brother at this time. It's probably not fair for him to say that because [Joey] was developed by Larry Johnson -- really [former defensive line coach Mike] Vrabel and Larry.

“But absolutely, Nick Bosa is an automatic.”

With so many jobs open thanks to the graduation of one of the most decorated senior classes in school history and nine players foregoing eligibility to declare for the NFL draft, Nick Bosa isn’t the only true freshman the Buckeyes figure to be leaning on from a group of recruits that ranked No. 5 in the nation on signing day last week.

But if Joey Bosa is leaving the biggest shoes to fill after establishing himself as one of the most dominant defenders in the nation over the past two seasons, Ohio State at least knows it has somebody who is aware of exactly what it will take to fill them -- and has already followed in those footsteps a few times before.

“We think we know, and you're not obviously ever for sure on guys that are committing as far as how ready and more so mentally the things they can handle,” Fickell said. “But the great thing you can say about probably Nick as well as Joey is that they grew up around it.

“He went to St. Thomas Aquinas [a national high school football powerhouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida] and followed his brother there and had a successful career.”

The next stop is Ohio State, and the program is already counting down the days until he arrives to pick up where his brother left off.