Get To Know Joseph Ossai


Michael LaPlaca

The Bengals addressed the defensive line with the addition of Texas edge rusher Joseph Ossai in the third round.

Get to know Ossai and find out why he is an exciting addition to the Bengals roster.

Self-Made Man

Ossai (pronounced oh-SIGH) was born in Ketu Ijaniki, Lagos, Nigeria. He first saw the game of football at age 10 on television after arriving to the United States. He worked on his game during high school to become a finalist for the Houston Touchdown Club’s Defensive Player of the Year and a top-150 overall recruit nationally.

Remember the Alamo

Early on at Texas, Ossai switched between inside linebacker and outside linebacker under coordinator Todd Orlando in 2019. His talent then maximized after being moved to a full-time role on the edge. Ossai’s breakout game came against the 2020 Alamo Bowl against the 11th-ranked Utah Utes. He earned the game’s defensive Most Valuable Player honors after recording nine tackles, six tackles for loss and three sacks. A year earlier, Ossai’s first real breakthrough came via a team-leading 8-tackle performance in the 28-21 win over Georgia.

Jumping Junior Year

Even though Ossai played four fewer games in his junior season than his sophomore season, he still set a career-high in sacks (5.5), tackles for loss (15.5), and forced fumbles (three). The accolades followed when he earned consensus All-America honors with first-team recognition from the AP, FWAA and WCFF. He was also a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, named to the All-Big 12 First Team and received honorable mention as Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and Defensive Lineman of the Year.

The Need For Speed

Ossai ran the second-fastest time for a defensive lineman in the 2021 draft class. He ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash at his pro day. Jayson Oweh of Penn State was the only defensive lineman who was faster with a 4.39 second 40-yard dash.

Life Outside Of Football

Ossai majored in arts and entertainment technology with a minor in Computer Science. His long-term goal is to open a foundation to help kids coming into the country.

“AET comes into play with app design and maybe some video game designing,” Ossai said. “There are a lot of options and I’m really enjoying it. With a background in computer science and programming, I can really take it wherever I want.”



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