Striv­ing to be No. 1

Ex-Aquinas star Bosa looks to ful­fill dream of be­ing top pick

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Sports - By Safid Deen

IN­DI­ANAPO­LIS — The NFL draft will fea­ture one of the most tal­ented and deep­est group of de­fen­sive line­men in league his­tory.

South Florida’s Nick Bosa, a for­mer St. Thomas Aquinas High

stand­out who played at Ohio State, has a chance to be con­sid­ered the best player of them all.

“It would be a dream come true,” Bosa said Sat­ur­day at the NFL scout­ing com­bine when asked about po­ten­tially be­ing the No. 1 over­all pick.

“That would just mean so much to me to be thought of as the best player in the draft.”

Bosa will par­tic­i­pate in a num­ber of foot­ball drills dur­ing the com­bine on Sun­day, along with sev­eral de­fen­sive ends and de­fen­sive tack­les who could po­ten­tially join him as first-round picks.

Alabama de­fen­sive tackle Quin­nen Wil­liams, who could also be a top-five pick, con­sid­ers him­self for­tu­nate to be in the loaded de­fen­sive line group.

“But what sets me apart is my IQ level of foot­ball,” Wil­liams said. “I feel like I can break down film like a quar­ter­back, and watch for ten­den­cies.”

Hous­ton de­fen­sive tackle Ed Oliver — who qui­eted con­cerns he was un­der­sized by mea­sur­ing in at

6 foot 2 — had a horse named Oreo he cred­its with help­ing him be­come fear­less.

“When you’re fight­ing with a

1,000-pound an­i­mal, I ain’t wor-

“It would be a dream come true. That would just mean so much to me to be thought of as the best player in the draft.” —Nick Bosa, for­mer St. Thomas Aquinas stand­out on pos­si­bly be­ing se­lected No. 1 over­all

ried about no 300 pounds,” Oliver said re­gard­ing op­pos­ing of­fen­sive line­men.

“I feel like ev­ery player that’s here should feel like they’re the best D-line­men,” Oliver con­tin­ued. “I def­i­nitely feel like I’m the best D-line­man.”

Florida State de­fen­sive end Brian Burns, a for­mer Amer­i­can Her­itage Plan­ta­tion High stand­out, could have ben­e­fited from a se­nior sea­son with the Semi­noles. But he has a unique, rangy skill set that in­trigues NFL scouts and ex­ec­u­tives at the de­fen­sive end and out­side line­backer po­si­tions.

“This is the most tal­ent I’ve ever seen,” Burns said. “Just sit­ting in the room with these guys, look­ing at them ev­ery day is like ‘wow, this is the de­fen­sive class.’ It means a lot. Just to be in that con­ver­sa­tion is a bless­ing.”

Florida de­fen­sive end Jachai Po­lite, who is room­mates at the com­bine with Bosa, is try­ing to find a bal­ance be­tween stay­ing hum­ble and pro­mot­ing him­self.

“He’s so cool. He’s prob­a­bly go­ing No. 1, and that’s crazy. I’d never imag­ine I’d be in the same room as him — lit­er­ally,” Po­lite said of Bosa. “I stay hum­ble, but I got to talk my­self up. I have to be­lieve in my­self first. I feel like I am the most ath­letic guy in this class. My film speaks for it­self.”

Clem­son’s trio of Clelin Fer­rell, Chris­tian Wilkins and Dex­ter Lawrence — who were once coach by new Mi­ami Dol­phins de­fen­sive line coach Mar­ion Hobby at the school — are also in the mix.

Mis­sis­sippi State team­mates Mon­tez Sweat and Jef­fery Sim­mons, Bos­ton Col­lege de­fen­sive end Zach Allen or Ohio State de­fen­sive tackle Dre’Mont Jones could be first-round se­lec­tions as well.

Michi­gan de­fen­sive end Rashan Gary may have been the most as­sertive when dis­cussing where he stands among the com­pe­ti­tion.

“I’m the best player in this draft, of­fen­sively or de­fen­sively — pe­riod,” Gary said.

Bosa may have one of the most

unique col­lege ca­reers out of all highly-touted prospects in the draft. He thought he was go­ing to have a stand­out ju­nior sea­son un­til he suf­fered a bi­lat­eral core mus­cle in­jury dur­ing the third game of the year at TCU on Sept. 15.

The in­jury oc­curred in the groin/lower ab­domen area, where Bosa said he had both sides sur­gi­cally re­paired be­cause there was risk for fu­ture in­jury if only one side was fixed.

Bosa left Ohio State one month later, to pre­serve his health and first-round po­ten­tial, in­stead of try­ing to re­cover from the in­jury and play again in col­lege.

“When it hap­pened and I got home from that TCU game, I was ly­ing in bed. I could barely get up.

It was one of the dark­est mo­ments of my life so far,” Bosa said.

“So for me to talk to my fam­ily, and let them bring me up, and just know my life is still good, and I still have amaz­ing bless­ings and a bright fu­ture, that’s what got me through it.”

Bosa does not want to think about how Ohio State’s sea­son, which was coach Ur­ban Meyer’s last with the Buck­eyes, would have un­folded if he was in the mix.

But he is grate­ful for his fam­ily and sup­port sys­tem for help­ing him get through the most dif­fi­cult junc­ture in his life.

Bosa moved in with his older brother, Joey, who was the No. 3 over­all pick by the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers in 2016. They lived to­gether

in Or­ange County, Calif., un­til the NFL sea­son ended be­fore mov­ing back to Fort Laud­erdale for the off­sea­son.

Now, he has a chance to make some fam­ily and NFL draft his­tory.

John Bosa, Nick’s fa­ther, and Eric Kumerow, Nick’s un­cle, were both se­lected by the Mi­ami Dol­phins in the 1987 and 1988 NFL drafts, re­spec­tively. They played three sea­sons each in Mi­ami.

Nick Bosa has a chance to be the fourth first-round pick in his fam­ily, with a chance to be drafted the high­est.

“My un­cle went 16th, my dad went 16th,” he said. “My brother went third, and hope­fully I’m go­ing pretty high as well. It’s pretty awe­some.”

AJ MAST/AP

Ohio State de­fen­sive line­man Nick Bosa, a star at St. Thomas Aquinas High, be­lieves he can be the top pick in this year’s NFL draft.

JAMIE SABAU/GETTY-AFP FILE

Ohio State’s Nick Bosa ar­guably is the best of a deep class of de­fen­sive line­men el­i­gi­ble for the draft.

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