MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Sometimes the players are the best ones to help you learn about a football team, especially the guys you can trust.
Bosch began his collegiate career as a four-star recruit at Michigan, got on the field as a true freshman playing left guard for former Wolverine coach Brady Hoke, and then following a brief meeting with new coach Jim Harbaugh, decided it was best to pack his bags and look for another place to play.
He soon ended up at West Virginia, and became an immediate starter at right guard during his sophomore season in 2015.
Now, two years later, the St. Charles, Illinois, resident is one of the most experienced players on the team with 26 career games played (all starts), those 26 starts tying him with junior safety Dravon Askew-Henry
for the most on the team.
Bosch has been involved in more than 1,800 plays during his two-year career, so he is clearly one of the players you can count on to give it to you straight.
And what he sees from this year’s team so far is straight, raw talent across the board.
“I have never seen, in my entire career of playing college football here and playing at Michigan, the amount of depth we have at the wide receiver and running back positions,” he noted. “(Justin) Crawford, Kennedy (McKoy) and (Tevin) Bush, they’re all progressing at the same sort of rate and obviously some players do some things better than the other, but they are all guys who you can put in on third and one and you’re like, ‘This guy is going to get us a first down.’”
Bosch says there is lots of talent in the wide receiver corps, too, it’s just that they’re too far down the field for him to see who is actually catching the ball. But he knows that so far they are catching them.
As for the offensive line, Bosch believes one of the key players up front this year could be redshirt freshman guard Josh Sills
, a 6-foot-6-inch, 316-pound man-child from Byesville, Ohio.
Like Colton McKivitz
once was, Sills is still raw but oozes with potential.
“I think Sills will have an opportunity to be our sixth man if he continues to progress in the right way,” Bosch said. “We thought maturity might be an issue for him, but once we got into camp he’s really kind of locked in and he’s going in the right direction. He definitely has a chance to start next year, and maybe even shake things up this year, who knows.”
The first group seems to be pretty well set right now with Bosch and senior Grant Lingafelter
manning the two guard spots, with McKivitz and junior Yodny Cajuste
handling the two tackle positions.
Sophomore Matt Jones
continues to draw rave reviews as Tyler Orlosky’s replacement at center.
“Matt is doing really well,” Bosch said. “You look at him and you see a new guy replacing Tyler Orlosky, and then you see him on the field and you watch film and you’re like, ‘Wow, this kid knows what he’s doing.’ He’s matured beyond his years.”
Of course, Jones has been blocking only one defense so far - Tony Gibson’s 3-3 stack - but that will soon change.
Having an experienced All-Big 12 player such as Bosch lined up right next to him will certainly help Jones when he observes the defense getting into some funky front that he hasn’t seen before.
“I’ve been in positions where I’ve changed where we’re sliding to,” Bosch admitted. “I remember playing Michigan State as a true freshman when they were the No. 2 ranked defense in the country and it was like a deer in headlights the whole time.
“I was like watching people driving down the Interstate past the stadium missing guys and it was pretty bad,” he joked. “I had a first-round tackle next to me and he tried his best to help me, so thank God Jones is a redshirt sophomore and he has a lot more experience and a lot more knowledge than I did when I was 18 playing for the first time.”
According to Bosch, what Jones is facing on a daily basis in practice going up against Gibson’s odd-stack scheme is really going to benefit him down the road when he calls out the more traditional fronts he sees during games.
“We get zero-blitzed by Coach Gibson all the time and we’ve got to react to it,” Bosch said. “The good thing about having a guy like Will (Grier) behind us is he knows exactly what to do when that happens. The thing about playing O-line is your hand is in the dirt and when you are one of the interior guys you have limited vision. So you really need a guy behind the center than can see the whole field and we have a heck of a guy behind us who has a good football vision and a sense of knowing what’s going on, and when it’s going to happen.”
Regarding some of the second-group guys, two young players who have really caught Bosch’s eye are sophomore left tackle Kelby Wickline
and injured redshirt freshman center Jacob Buccigrossi
, who is expected back at some point this season.
Wickline is the son of offensive line coach Joe Wickline who came to WVU last winter after excelling at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Mississippi.
Buccigrossi, from nearby Pittsburgh, was the talk of spring ball at backup center until going down with a knee injury in late March. Coach Dana Holgorsen said at the start of fall camp that he expects Buccigrossi back “sooner rather than later.”
“From what I’ve heard, he’s got a really good head on his shoulders and he’s doing really well,” Bosch said of Buccigrossi. “Prior to all that happening he was going so well. He was kind of like the shocker of the spring because of the way he was playing. That’s a shame that happened to him, but I know he’s going to bounce back.
“And Kelby Wickline
is doing a great job for us and I think he’s going to be a good player,” Bosch said. “All of those young kids … right now looking at them it’s like looking at a bunch of newborns trying to walk because for a lot of them it’s their first camp or their second camp. They haven’t actually taken team reps with the second team, but this time next week I’m sure it will be a completely different story and we can really gauge how they are coming along.”
Bosch said he really likes the direction the offense has taken with new offensive coordinator Jake Spavital adding his twist to things.
There seems to be an air of freshness to the team meeting room these days.
“He’s very West Coast is the best way to say it,” Bosch said. “He’s very liberal with his coaching style and it’s kind of a breath of fresh air from a guy coming from the Midwest. It’s a lot different now when you can go to Spav and say, ‘Hey Spav, I don’t think X, Y and Z looks good. What do you think we can do to fix it?’ He actually allows your input on what you’re concerned about. It’s very cool to see.”
Overall, Bosch sees a West Virginia football team many outsiders might be sleeping on a little bit this year.
“People thought we’re going to be average to sub-par and we won 10 games last year,” he said. “It’s one of those things where I think we all kind of like going into this with eyes wide shut. No one is really expecting anything so we can kind of just emerge as the underdog.”
Some straight talk, coming from a guy who knows.