SAN DIEGO-By picking Ohio State linebacker Joey Bosa with the No. 3 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers are confident that they have a franchise player for the next decade. When a player is selected that high, they’re deemed to be a difference-maker.
After the first two picks of the draft went on quarterbacks, the Chargers, in need to shore up their 3-4 defense, flipped the script by adding Bosa to their roster. Bosa, a two-time consensus All-American and 2014 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, is expected to make an immediate impact on the defensive side of the ball with his nonstop motor to get after the ball.
Bosa talked to the media about being selected by the Chargers, and what it is like to being compared to Houston Texans star J.J. Watt.
Joey Bosa: “I just want to say thank you to the Spanos family and the whole Chargers organization for giving me this opportunity. It was truly a dream come true yesterday. It’s still surreal to me finally getting to get out here to meet all the players and getting to know the coaches. Let’s win some games.”
What was it like to talk to (John) Pagano?
“It was awesome. I really never got a chance to talk to him before. I got to really see where he sees me playing in this defense. To get to talk to him, to get to know him, it was nice.”
How would you describe what your fit into the Chargers’ defense will be?
“I’m going to play defensive end. People seem to get caught up a lot in in 3-4, 4-3 and see me as a 4-3 but really we’re in base 70% of the time so I’m going to play that defensive end technique and play wherever he sees me fit or wants to move me around. I’m sure I’ll learn more about it in the coming days.”
Have you gotten a chance to meet any of your teammates?
“I met Manti (Te’o) in the locker room and I met Philip Rivers. They seem like great guys that are ready to win some games.”
What did Philip say to you?
“Congratulations and he welcomed me to the team. He seems like a great, standup guy. He’s obviously a competitor from what I’ve been hearing from everybody. I only hear great things about him and I’m excited that I get to come here and be around a guy like that, that wants to win and wants to compete.”
What did John Bosa, Miami Dolphins’ star (and father), tell Joey Bosa about what the next step would be like?
“He’s just really been there every step of the way for me. He’s just been making sure I’m keeping my head on straight and knowing what is important, and that’s football and my family. I’m grateful and thankful every single day for the position I’m in and the opportunity I get. He and my mom have both been great throughout this process.”
You’ve been compared to JJ Watt. What do you think you bring to the table as far as that?
“He’s obviously one of the best defenders in the league. It’s my goal to come in and have impact like that. I’m going to do anything I can to help my team win.”
“Well, 97 was taken. They weren’t very many choices other than that … 90, 96 and 99, so not very many choices.”
San Diego has a great history of being blitz happy. Have you ever played anywhere where there’s such a focus as San Diego has and what does that mean to a defensive end?
“At Ohio State, we had an array of different blitzes. Maybe over the last year we didn’t blitz as much so it’s maybe the years before but I’m used to running 10 or more blitzes a game so I have no problem addressing that.”
The top 5 players from Ohio State went in the first round. What is it about that program that has prepared you for this next step?
“The first day you step on campus at Ohio State, Coach (Urban) Meyer and his amazing staff are preparing you for that next level. You can’t say enough about them and the culture they’ve brought to Ohio State of excellence. Every recruit that comes to Ohio State has that goal, or should have that goal, to eventually play at that next level. Of course not everyone will but they should at least have that goal and strive for that. That’s the culture at Ohio State and it’s shown, especially yesterday.”
Is there one piece of advice from Coach Meyer that has kind of stuck with you as you move forward to this next step?
“It’s hard to just pick one. It’s been a long three years with him. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs. First off, you’ve got to gain his trust. He’s not going to just give it to you. Once you gain his trust and start building that relationship, there’s nothing he won’t do for you to help you succeed. I can’t think of just one specific thing.”
When you heard your name called, some of the thoughts that went through your head?
“I couldn’t believe it. It was unbelievable to get to experience that with my friends and my family. I just kept playing it back in my head on the way here on the plane. It was just surreal.”
What was going on?
“I was sitting there holding my phone just staring at my screen. Not much going on.”
You were with friends and family?
“It was just my family at the time and my coaches up in the green room. All of my friends and some of my family were out in the crowd and they were excited when I walked out on that stage.”
You said you hadn’t been to San Diego but could you get a glimpse from the plane and the drive over. What was kind of your first impression of where you’re going to play football?
“Very nice weather, it seems beautiful. It looks like there are a lot of great places to live. I’m just excited to come to a culture like that and atmosphere like that in a beautiful place like San Diego, but also a great football program.”
Who was at your draft table last night?
“It was my parents, my brother, my coach, and my agents who were standing up behind me. They were being sneaky. They already knew before I did but they didn’t want to let me know. It was great to experience that with them.”
You’ve been promoted and projected as top 5, top 3 maybe even number 1 overall for the last two, maybe even three years for some people. So when you look at where you’re standing today, do you see this as this is exactly where I was supposed to be right here or does it still feel like a work or a struggle to get to this moment?
“It’s always work. I’ve worked for everything I have. Nothing is ever given to you. That’s definitely something my dad has taught me throughout this whole process. I know coming here as a rookie that nothing is going to be handed to me. I’m going to have to keep that same work ethic that got me here in the first place.”
Do you know the current owner of 97?
“Someone told me but I can’t think of the name right now.”
It’s linebacker Jerry Attaochu. Do you think you’re going to barter at all or are you going to let it go?
“No, I’m going to let it go. Maybe in a few years, I’ll get it back.”
What do you think the challenge is going to be like to go to this next level?
“Everyone is a pro and is stronger, faster, and more physical. I think if I keep that same work ethic that got me to this point and just continue to get better every day and strive to be the best player I can be. Of course it’s going to be a challenge but I’m definitely up for it.”
Joey, one thing Coach Pagano has talked about with you is he’s impressed with how well you use your hands and a lot of guys coming out of college don’t have that ability. How long have you had that ability to really fight blocks off with your hands?
“It’s all thanks to Coach (Larry) Johnson, ever since he came in my sophomore year. I was still raw, just kind of a physical player, not really great hips, and not great hands. The way he works his guys and the D-linemen, it’s amazing the difference between my being a freshman to sophomore, sophomore to junior. It’s something I can see just continuing to get better every single year. So I’m excited to just get out here and keep working.”
What would you say is you’re biggest area of growth in the last couple of years?
“That right there. Technique-wise, just using my hands and moving my hips and athletically, watching myself freshman year is almost hard to watch for myself because I was a completely different player. Like I said, I’m excited because I think I’m just going to keep getting better and better.”
After, especially last season, when you saw some of the double teams and offensive running to the other side of the field when they really identified you, how excited are you, it’s a higher level of player in the NFL obviously, that you may have a little more room to run and teams can’t focus on you in that way?
“Coach Pagano is going to put in the right position to be successful. Of course, at this level, you’ve got a great player playing next to you and on the other side of you. Everyone is a pro so they can’t really double team or triple team you when they’ve got another great player on the other edge coming off. It’s definitely going to be fun getting to play around other great players.”
I don’t know if you know or not, but oddly enough your haircut was trending last night on social media. What precipitated the new do?
“I just thought it was a good time for a change. It was getting in my face all the time when I was working out. It was just another thing to keep up and just another thing to worry about. I thought it was a good time for a change and for a new organization.”
Why is laid-back Joey Bosa a good fit in laid-back San Diego?
“People seem to worry that I’m too laid back. The more I play clam and play relaxed, I actually play better. I’m a football player. It’s what I do every single day. People expect you to have to turn on this switch to become something different to go out there and play football. It’s just who I am. I don’t have to turn on that switch to play football. I’m a football player. I don’t have to change myself to go out and play well. Like I said, I think the more relaxed, the calmer I am, the better I actually perform.”
What did you know about this Charger program, the culture, of the history of the team, of the fan base or have you even really had time to look into that?
“Not too much but of course I’m more than excited to get out here and get to know all the history, get to know all the coaches and players and everything. It’s my first day out here.”