If you don't know the answer to that question, you're either not a defensive football aficionado (and therefore must be a PAC12 fan) or you've spent the majority of the last two autumns beneath some stone or other.
The nameis one that strikes fear into the hearts of offensive coordinators, as in only two seasons at the collegiate level, the young defensive tackle has become the single most disruptive pass rushing force in the game. His statistics are unreal, and to make matters worse for opposing offensive lines, he's not even the only future NFL defensive lineman in the unit.
As part of the star-studded front four that anchors the Ohio State Buckeye defense, Bosa has emerged into a superstar in only a short amount of time. But who is this big fellow on a meteoric rise to gridiron greatness? Let's take a closer look.
Who in the Heck is Joey Bosa?
The sophomore from St. Thomas Aquinas High in Ft. Lauderdale was another Ohio State defender who was talented enough to garner a scholarship offer from Alabama (among other top SEC schools), but he instead chose to follow head coach Urban Meyer to Columbus in hopes of helping rebuild the Buckeye program to the heights of its past greatness. Bosa and his teammates are on that very cusp, as Ohio State will face Alabama in the first semi-final of the first-ever College Football Playoffs.
The highly-coveted Bosa was the 38th ranked player overall and 53rd by Scout, 47th by Rival, 56th by ESPN and 53rd by 247 Sports in the 2013 signing class. He was the consensus fourth-ranked strong-side defensive end in the class and a five-star prospect among all of the major recruiting services.
The 6'5" 268 pound athlete was a unanimous first-team high school All-American whose father was a first round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins out of Boston College. After garnering playing time in his first season, Bosa quickly showed the coaching staff what he had to offer, converting raw talent into on-field performance. He made 10 starts as a true freshman, garnering Freshman All-American honors after posting 44 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss (3rd on the team), 7.5 sacks and six quarterback hurries (1st on the team). His sack and tfl numbers ranked sixth and 11th in the Big10, respectively.
Ohio State Co-Defensive Coordinator Chris Ash said the moment he saw Bosa play, he knew he had something special.
"When I saw him last spring, I saw a very talented, inexperienced, young player. We all talked as a staff that if Joey Bosa started to understand how to play the position he was going to have a chance to be a dominant player. The production has continued to improve over the course of the season. He's a great player, and if he continues to improve, he will be an outstanding and dominant player at this level and at the next level."
In 2014, Bosa has indeed come into his own as a dominant pass rusher and run defender, as he is one of the few elite defensive linemen who excels at both. This season, Bosa has accrued 50 tackles (34 solo), 20 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, a pass broken-up, two passes defended, four quarterback hurries, one fumble recovery and four fumbles forced. His four forced fumbles led directly to 30 points for the Buckeyes (two fumbles returned for a touchdown). His sack number leads the Big 10, as does his tfl tally. Both of those numbers rank nationally (fourth in sacks, fifth in tfls), making Bosa one of the most productive linemen in the country. Bosa set the Ohio State record for most consecutive games with a tfl at 14, and he has posted at least one tackle for loss in 17 of the last 18 games. Seven times this season, the lineman has produced multiple tfls in a game.
On the strength of his 2014 campaign, Bosa has been lauded through numerous post-season awards. In addition to being a finalist for the Lombardi Award (best defensive lineman or linebacker) and the Bednarik Award (best defensive plyer), Bosa was named the Big 10 Player of the Year and the Big 10 Defensive Lineman of the Year Award.
Needless to say, Bosa represents the cream of the crop in opposing defensive linemen Alabama has faced this year, as he is every bit as talented as Arkansas' Trey Flowers, Texas A&M's Myles Garrett or Mizzou's Shane Ray and. Unlike those other players, however, Bosa has a dynamic supporting cast that will make life difficult for Alabama offensive players in the Sugar Bowl.
And then, there's this...how many 6'5" 268 pound men do you know who can do that?
What to expect from Joey Bosa versus Alabama
Quite simply, expect more of the same. While Bosa won't be able to dominate Bama offensive linemen the way he ran roughshod over their Big 10 brethren, Bosa and fellow line matesand Adolphus Washington pose a formidable challenge for the Alabama offensive line to overcome.
Bosa will be a pass rush monster for sure, but due to his ability to get inside and stuff the run, his impact will likely be felt in both phases of the offensive game plan. Because the Ohio State defensive line is loaded with talent in the first string, it will be difficult for Alabama to select a single defender to double. Double Bosa and Bennett can make you pay. Double Bennett and Washington will be in the face of Blake Sims. It's a no-win situation for the Tide regarding containment of Buckeye defenders with double-teams, so Alabama's offensive linemen must be able to handle their one-on-one assignments and follow their blocks through.
Despite the potentially rough going, Alabama is as well-equipped to deal with Ohio State's defensive lines as any unit in the nation. The Tide has been near the top of the SEC (finished the season at #1) in regard to sacks allowed, giving only a sack per game. The Bama pass blocking has been phenomenal to say the least, and there's no reason to expect a collapse against Ohio State.
After all, it's not like Bama's men in the trenches haven't faced top-flight, NFL-caliber defensive linemen throughout the season...and with good results. Left tackle, who will be 100% healthy for the first time in the last half of the season, has been against the best the SEC has to offer, and he has done quite well. The list of defensive monsters Robinson has rebuffed includes the likes of Mizzou's Shane Ray, Florida's Dante Fowler Jr. and Arkansas' Flowers, all of whom will be early round NFL Draft picks in the near future.
Also working in Robinson's favor will be his tremendous size and athleticism. Simply put, Bosa hasn't faced an offensive lineman of Robinson's caliber in Big 10 play this year. The most dominant offensive lineman Bosa faced was Wisconsin's Rob Haverstein in the Big 10 Championship Game, and although the Buckeye defender got the best of that match-up, Haverstein does not have the measurables or intangibles possessed by Bama's freshman tackle. Robinson is bigger (6'6" 323 pounds) and more technically sound. While Bosa will indeed challenge CamRob and win his share of the battles, the big man will provide Bosa with a formidable challenge as well as the best opposition the sophomore end has faced to date.
Though Bosa vs. Robinson will be the featured battle in the trenches, expect the Buckeye staff to move Bosa around to increase his impact potential. The other most likely opponent for Bosa will be senior right tackle Austin Shepherd. While Shepherd doesn't have Robinson's freakish size and athleticism, he is a veteran who has proven himself against great defensive ends this season as well (Markus Golden, for example.) While Shep doesn't get the ink or accolades doled out to his junior comrade, he has proven himself steady and reliable against the best defenses have to offer. When Bosa lines up on the right side of the line, he may have slightly more success, but he will not dominate Shepherd the way he has abused Big 10 tackles throughout 2014.
The ace in the hole for Alabama could be the mobility of quarterback Blake Sims. If Bosa and company are indeed able to crush the pocket at times, Sims has proven himself adept at rolling the pocket and completing passes with a high degree of accuracy. In fact, at times, the Tide offensive staff has purposely given Sims freedom to move, as it appears he actually finds a better rhythm on the move and is able to improve his field vision and hit open receivers while mobile. The Buckeye defense hasn't faced many quarterbacks with Sims' skill set (nor Sims' corps of potential receiving targets, including the explosive), so the Buckeyes would do well to be wary of flushing the cagey quarterback from the pocket too often.
There's no doubt that Bosa and the Buckeye defensive line will give the Alabama line its stiffest challenge of the season, as only Mizzou could claim to have a defensive line with as much raw talent as OSU. That amalgam could create problems for the Alabama line, especially is some of the Tide's self-inflicted wounds rise to the forefront (for illegal procedure, anyone?) However, unlike many of the Big 10 opponents upon which the Buckeye defensive line has fed this year, Alabama has the talent level and experience to keep tOSU pass rush in check.