2020 Texas Player Spotlight: DL Joseph Ossai

Gordon DeLoach

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Tyler Huntley probably still has nightmares about his trip to San Antonio. The Utah quarterback led a team that won 11 games for the first time in a power conference and was a game away from the College Football Playoff. Joseph Ossai made the Utes’ trip to the Alamo Bowl a living nightmare. 

Ossai led the Longhorns in tackles during a strong 2019 season at the outside linebacker position. But against Utah, the Texas junior took it to another level. While lining up at different spots on the field, Ossai exploded for six tackles for loss and three sacks, almost more than he had all season heading into the season finale. His ridiculous effort made all the difference in a dominant Longhorns defensive effort. 

When Chris Ash came in and pitched moving the defense into a 4-3 alignment, his eyes were immediately drawn to Ossai. His 6-foot-4, 255-pound frame was valuable at linebacker. But when planning for the JACK pass rushing role, Ossai was an obvious fit. 

“What you saw in the bowl is a pretty good indication of what he can accomplish and the type of production he can have,” Ash said. “If we can get him to do that consistently, I think we’re going to have a great player.”

Ossai is a nice addition to a defensive line that finished No. 69 in sacks per game. The Longhorns’ production ranked in the bottom half of the Big 12, despite playing with the highest-rated defensive line recruits in the conference. Additionally, his versatile skill set allows him to stay on the field in multiple situations. 

“He’s probably our most gifted pass rusher,” Tom Herman said. “Not probably, I would think he is. Yet he’s athletic enough that if we want to blitz from the other side, we can drop him into coverage. He’s a fierce competitor and plays with tremendous effort and tenacity.” 

While Ossai already ranks as one of the leaders on the defense, he’s still growing as a player. He’s gained 40 pounds since being named a member of the Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Super Team at Conroe Oak Ridge. He’s changing positions. His knowledge of the game is still growing heading into his third year on the 40 Acres. The best is yet to come. 

“He’s really serious about being a great football player,” Ash said. “He works extremely hard and is coachable. He’s still what I would term as raw – he’s got a ton of potential.” 

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