If this is Joseph Ossai’s last year in a Texas uniform, he is certainly making a good final impression. The Longhorns’ defense hasn’t had many bright spots through three games of Big 12 play this year, but Ossai is the exception.
The junior from Conroe has made 23 tackles and 1.5 sacks in conference contests and had his best game of the year in the Red River Showdown game against Oklahoma with six solo tackles, four assisted tackles and half a sack.
That performance earned him praise recently from Texas coach Tom Herman.
“He plays so hard," Herman said. "I don’t know what kind of justice the TV copy that most of the country sees does to his play, but I know that the coach’s copy of the video that we watch shows a phenomenal effort. He is a guy that the entire defense is close to and feeds off of because of his effort level, tenacity, physicality and being in the right place at the right time.”
Pointed to by ESPN NFL draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr., in May as the fifth-best outside linebacker available for the 2021 draft, Ossai hasn’t let that projection down.
He had nine solo tackles and a sack in the Longhorns’ loss to TCU, and standing at 6 feet, 4 inches and weighing slightly more than 250 pounds, he has the physical traits of which pro teams drool.
Ossai has an interesting personal story as well. A native of Nigeria, he came to the United States — Houston, specifically — with his family in 2008 at the age of 10.
Growing up playing soccer in Africa, he eventually took an interest in American football and excelled at Conroe's Oak Ridge High School, becoming a four-star defensive end.
An all-Big 12 preseason selection, Ossai will play a big factor if Texas wants to turn its season around and make a run at a possible showing in the Big 12 championship game.