There is little doubt that Ohio State defensive lineman Joey Bosa is, quite possibly, the hottest name in college football today. Walter Football projects him as the first overall pick in next year’s NFL Draft, as does CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler. Simply put, the soon-to-be junior can play, and well.
And yet, though Bosa has 99 tackles, 34.5 tackles for a loss, 21 sacks, four forced fumbles and two defensive touchdowns across two seasons with the Buckeyes, he is not in the Heisman Trophy conversation. Of course, he should be.
In fact, on odds listed by CBS Sports and SB Nation, Bosa’s name isn’t even listed, though Ohio State teammates in running back Ezekiel Elliott, quarterbacks J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones, and position-seemingly-to-be-determined Braxton Miller are all listed ahead of him. In terms of defensive players, the only one listed on both sites’ odds is Arizona Wildcats linebacker Scooby Wright, who led the nation with 163 tackles last season and also had 14 sacks with six forced fumbles.
Now, granted, Wright is an excellent talent in his own right, but he is also a linebacker, a fairly interchangeable position on the professional level. Whether someone is a first or fourth-round pick, it isn’t necessarily a position that requires an athlete at the top of his class.
The same cannot be said for edge rushers like Bosa, the most dominant of which only come along every once in a while. In fact, in the past Five Pro Bowls, all but five starters at defensive end have not been first-round picks. Still, Bosa remains out of the Heisman conversation.
It should also be noted that when Heisman season comes along, offensive players tend to get most of the attention. In the past decade, nine of ten winners have been quarterbacks, the odd man out being former Alabama Crimson Tide running back and current New Orleans Saint Mark Ingram, who took the award home in 2009.
In fact, only one purely defensive player has ever won the Heisman Trophy, defensive back Charles Woodson in 1997. Throw in that Woodson beat out future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning for the award, and it proves that there is indeed hope for defensive players in the Heisman race.
And yet, for some reason or another, Bosa is falling by the wayside in favor of players like TCU quarterback Trevon Boykin, LSU running back Leonard Fournette, Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson and too many other offensive players to count. The fact that Bosa was the anchor of the Buckeyes defense that won a national title last season seems borderline meaningless since college football has become a game of hurry-up offenses and high scoring.
But that’s not why this writer is here today, devoted readers. This writer is here to say that even though he isn’t a player that puts a ton of points on the board or has speed reminiscent of The Flash when the ball is put in his hands, but he is everything that the Heisman is all about. That is someone “whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.”
Bosa has been nothing but excellent since suiting up in Columbus two seasons ago and given how he has only gotten better, having been named a unanimous All-American last year as well as the Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year, the fact that he is not even under consideration for one of the top honors in the nation is borderline criminal. And all because he doesn’t score an ungodly number of touchdowns or throw the ball a ridiculous number of yards with just one motion on a regular basis.
Hopefully, as he enters his junior season, Bosa will be able to perform at an even higher level than he did in 2014 and show that, despite his playing on the defensive side of the ball, that he deserves to be in the Heisman conversation just as much as his teammates on offense.
*Feature Photo Credit (above) to Fox Sports