After rocking the No. 99 for a few seasons, Los Angeles Chargers pass-rusher Joey Bosa is returning to his roots.
During his time at St. Thomas Aquinas High School and Ohio State, Bosa sported the No. 97, a number which brought him tremendous success and culminated with being selected No. 3 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. While Bosa has been very effective while wearing No. 99, the change has to do more with his family.
His father, John, wore the number for three seasons in the league and the NFL’s newest Bosa, Nick, will wear it for the San Francisco 49ers after being selected No. 2 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft a month ago.
“I’ve been just meaning to do that for a while now. It’s just a cool tradition. I’d like to keep it going,” he said told the Associated Press.
Bosa wanted to change numbers last year, but the NFL informed him that it would cost $500,000 since they had a large inventory of his jerseys in stock. Thankfully, the Chargers announced they were changing their primary home uniforms to the powder blue jerseys, so Bosa can now make the switch.
Bosa missed the first nine games of the 2018 season with a left foot injury, but when he returned, Bosa took this Chargers defense to another level. In the final seven games of the season, Bosa recorded 23 combined tackles and 5.5 sacks, as Los Angeles won five of its last seven games and clinched its first postseason appearance since 2016.
The 2017 Pro Bowler and 2016 Defensive Rookie of the Year has recorded 134 combined tackles and 28.5 sacks in his first three seasons, and everyone is expecting him to return to double-digit-sack form in 2019.
“He looks awesome,” Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said via NFL.com. “He feels really good. So, to get him back on the field — just that brotherhood part where the guys are together again — I think that’s important. You can always count on him. It’s great to see him. He looks to be in great shape.”
Bosa is in some ways still dealing with that left foot injury, but says that it doesn’t affect his play anymore.
“It’s not causing a limp or anything. It’s just there. It’s just something I notice,” he told the AP. “It’s been getting better all offseason, so I could definitely see by camp or maybe even next year where it kind of starts fading away. Once you get into season, it gets pretty intense, so we’ll see.”
The Chargers appear to be a team on the up and up, and Bosa is a big part of that. This team has hit on all of their first-round picks over the past few years — picks which include running back Melvin Gordon, wide receiver Mike Williams, safety Derwin James and Bosa. Los Angeles now brings former Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery into the fold, someone who should help solidify the interior of the defensive line, giving Bosa even more opportunities to strike from the edge.