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Why Nick Bosa will prepare for the NFL draft instead of returning to Ohio State

The projected first-rounder has a lot of money at stake, and it wasn’t a sure thing he would’ve been able to help the Buckeyes any time soon.

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Ohio State v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa will not be returning to the field with the Buckeyes for the remainder of the 2018 season, the school announced.

Bosa, who suffered a core injury in September that sidelined him, will focus on the next steps of his football career. “He intends to withdraw from school in order to devote more time to his rehabilitation and training efforts,” said Ohio State, with Urban Meyer thanking Bosa in a statement for “the remarkable efforts he gave the program.”

Here’s Land-Grant Holy Land with more:

The worst nightmare for Buckeye fans might have just come true as The Columbus Dispatch’s Tim May is reporting that All-American defensive end Nick Bosa will not return to the field for Ohio State this season. Following a core muscle injury suffered in the win over TCU in September, Bosa had surgery, and the initial timetable indicated that he would return in November.

However, as a projected top-five pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Bosa has reportedly decided to focus on the next phase of his football career. In his press conference on Monday, when OSU head coach Urban Meyer was asked whether or not Bosa would return this season, Meyer said that he was “hoping” that the DE would, but that he was scheduled to visit with his surgeons on Tuesday to assess his progress post-surgery.

Given that Bosa was initially expected to at least try and return to the field, depending on when that could be possible. But either way, this move makes a lot of sense.

Bosa is a highly projected 2019 NFL Draft pick, with some predicting him to go as high as No. 1.

SB Nation’s latest mock draft has Bosa as the No. 2 overall pass rusher in the class, behind Houston’s Ed Oliver:

The younger Bosa is not simply a carbon copy of his bigger brother, Joey Bosa of the Los Angeles Chargers. Nick Bosa is a little faster and gets lower bending the edge with more flexibility. He’s coming off a sophomore season with 16 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. He also has excellent handwork, and sheds blockers quickly.

So there was a lot of money riding on his decision. Depending on how many games he could’ve come back for this season, it might not’ve been worth risking injury any further, and there’s a chance he could’ve hurt his stock by suffering an additional injury.

In recent years, we’ve seen numerous projected first-rounders opt out of their team’s bowl games for this reason, even if they weren’t previously hurt.

Last season, big names like FSU’s Derwin James, Oregon running back Royce Freeman, and Texas offensive lineman Conner Williams sat out of bowls. All of them were selected in last year’s draft. These players sitting out wasn’t nearly as big of a controversy as it was the year prior, when former Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and former LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette sat out of their teams’ bowl games, then went in the first round.

Bosa’s decision could receive similar scrutiny.

Obviously it’s unclear what the severity of Bosa’s injury is.

Late last month, there was a report that Bosa could be out until “at least November,” so it wasn’t guaranteed he was going to be giving the Buckeyes a big boost any time soon. After news of Bosa’s decision became public, Bosa’s father told Sports Illustrated that a realistic shot for his return would be “12 weeks,” which would be around late December:

“There’s timeframes for injuries, and then timeframes for an elite pass rusher. It’s not about rehabbing so you can be back on the used car lot or be a mechanic. When is he able to be safe and play at the same level? When you look at the preparation he goes through in preseason, that’s not a realistic timeframe for it to be safe. It’s just not.”

The Buckeyes will have to continue on without their talented pass rusher, with big games against Michigan State and Michigan coming.