INDIANAPOLIS — Nick Bosa admitted experiencing dark days after his season-ending injury in September.
The former Ohio State defensive end was all smiles on Saturday, though, as he looked forward to getting to work out for NFL teams at the league’s annual scouting combine on Sunday.
“I’m just ready to go run, do something in front of some cameras,” he said.
He declined to share any goals for the workouts, “but I’ll be doing pretty well I think.”
Bosa did more than pretty well on Sunday. He ran a 4.79 in the 40-yard dash, which was .07 of a second faster than his older brother Joey ran at the combine when he was there in 2016. His 29 repetitions in the bench press were the most by a defensive end this year and third among all defensive linemen. He was third among defensive linemen in the short shuttle and the 10-yard split.
Bosa has been considered a strong candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick for a year or more.
He was also expected to turn in a dominant 2018 season at Ohio State, but a bilateral core muscle injury in the third quarter of the Buckeyes’ win over TCU on Sept. 15 wiped out the rest of his junior year.
“I wasn’t over it at all in a couple weeks,” Bosa recalled. “It took me a couple months. Just watching the games, watching the Team Up North game (Michigan), all that was painful — even though we whooped ‘em. That made it a little better, but it was tough.”
Bosa put up impressive numbers at Ohio State despite an abbreviated career.
He was part of a deep rotation as a true freshman and sophomore but totaled 13.5 sacks and 23 tackles for loss despite limited opportunities.
After logging three sacks and five tackles for loss in his first two games, Bosa was generating some Heisman Trophy talk heading into what was at the time a showcase game against the 15th-ranked Horned Frogs.
He backed it up with a strip-sack in the first half, but that all came to an end when he was injured in the third quarter.
“It was the year I had been waiting for my whole career,” he said. “I kind of split reps my freshman and sophomore year so coming in I was going to be the guy. Started strong the first three games and it just got torn away from me. It’s something I’ll always think back to, but it’s tough.”
Although he played in only a quarter of the regular season, Bosa finished with six tackles for loss and four sacks — and still ended up getting honorable mention All-Big Ten recognition.
He finished with 29 career tackles for loss, and Bosa’s 17.5 career sacks are tied with Andy Katzenmoyer and Rodney Bailey for No. 13 in Ohio State history.
Bosa is aiming to be the eighth Ohio State defensive lineman taken in the first round in the common era of the draft (since 1967).
That group includes his brother, Joey, who went No. 3 to the Chargers in 2016 and his uncle, Eric Kumerow, who was the 16th overall pick of the Dolphins in 1988. John Bosa, the father of Joey and Nick, was also the 16th overall pick by the Dolphins one year earlier coming out of Boston College.
“I don’t know if that’s a record or something,” he said, “but it’s pretty awesome.”
If Nick Bosa is the No. 1 overall pick, he would be the fourth from Ohio State, joining linebacker Tom Cousineau (Buffalo Bills, 1979), defensive tackle Dan “Big Daddy” Wilkinson (Cincinnati Bengals, 1995) and offensive tackle Orlando Pace (St. Louis Rams 1997).
Getting a clean bill of health in Indianapolis figures to be a major step in that direction.
Bosa said he has been feeling like himself for the past few weeks, the end of a long recovery process.
“I was moving around doing some like slow warm-up stuff even a couple weeks out (from surgery), and then once I left (Columbus), I went up to California and got with Movement First and they got me just doing a lot of strengthening and stuff,” said Bosa, who withdrew from Ohio State in October to focus on his rehab. “I kind of toned down on the running because I knew I had plenty of time to take it slow.
“Maybe a month and a half or two months out I started running slowly, jogging, but yeah it was just a slow process. You break down scar tissue, feel pops and stuff. It’s just not fun. You have to get all your flexibility back, your abs are all mushy. It’s not a fun one.”
“I’ve been talking myself up pretty good to them so I’m definitely ready to get out on the field, get on the bench (press) tonight and leave no doubt like I said before,” he said.