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Who will Ohio State turn to in wake of Nick Bosa's injury?

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Nick Bosa
Nick Bosa (AP Images)

Ohio State’s run to the College Football Playoff hit a bump in the road Saturday, when starting defensive end Nick Bosa was lost for an extended period of time after suffering an injury. But the show must go on, and it’s next man up time for the Buckeyes, who are jumping into their conference schedule next week. So, who will fill Bosa’s shoes? We take a look back at the candidates as recruits and examine what to expect from them in Bosa's absence.

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As a recruit: Young’s recruitment came down to Ohio State, Alabama and Maryland, and he committed to the Buckeyes during the summer prior to his senior season.

What to expect: Young has already been seeing plenty of time this season, so it’s not like he’s coming out of nowhere to fill Bosa’s shoes. On the season, he has four total tackles, including two sacks. The former five-star has shown great promise in his young career, and will now be counted on to get after the quarterback on a more consistent basis. As a true freshman in 2017, Young had 18 tackles, including five for loss and 2.5 sacks.

As a recruit: An Ohio native, Cooper’s recruitment didn’t have much drama, as he committed to the Buckeyes during his junior season and never really wavered on that pledge.

What to expect: Cooper was splitting time along with Young opposite of Bosa, and now the duo will likely be on the field together. Cooper is the more experienced of the two, having played since his freshman year in 2016. This season, he has five total tackles and one sack, and over his career Cooper has 27 total tackles, four sacks and one fumble recovery. Given the flashes Young has already shown this season, Cooper will be under more of a spotlight to continue to improve his production.

As a recruit: Cornell committed to Ohio State over Michigan State, Notre Dame and several others during the summer prior to his senior year.

What to expect: Cornell was an elite-level recruit whose ranking was much-debated during the recruiting process. After redshirting his first year on campus, Cornell hasn’t managed to make much of an impact while bouncing between defensive tackle and defensive end. He showed flashes last season, recording 14 tackles and two sacks while also recovering two fumbles. So far this season he has just two tackles and he will have every chance to fulfill his promise. If he doesn't he will likely be passed up some of the younger players on the roster.

As a recruit: Smith’s recruitment played out on the national stage, as he took all five of his official visits, going to USC, Oregon, Penn State and Alabama, in addition to the Buckeyes. He made his decision to stay close to home and committed to Ohio State two weeks before signing day earlier this year.

What to expect: Smith has seen spot duty so far this year, and has one total tackle. But he’s a player who came in with big expectations and he was already on the two-deep prior to Bosa’s injury. Smith will see an increased role, regardless, and will be counted on even more if anything should happen to Young or Cooper.

As a recruit: Friday’s recruitment came down to a trio of schools: Michigan, Alabama and Ohio State, and he committed to the Buckeyes a few weeks before Signing Day earlier this year.

What to expect: Friday is a talented freshman who has already worked his way onto the field, albeit in a reserve role. He’s still likely to be running third string, but as evidenced by his lofty ranking, which at one point peaked at No. 26 overall, Friday could work his way into the rotation as the season moves along.