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Bowling Green expects return of Jamari Bozeman

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Bowling Green's Jamari Bozeman, left, is likely to start against Oregon on Saturday.

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Bowling Green safety Jamari Bozeman will make his return to the field Saturday, coach Mike Jinks said Monday.

The former All-Mid-American Conference selection missed the entire 2017 season and his prognosis for 2018 was murky during the offseason, but Jinks said Bozeman’s rehabilitation from a serious hip injury has been faster than expected.

Although Bozeman was unlisted on the depth chart Bowling Green released, Jinks said Bozeman is healthy enough to return to a starting role when the Falcons travel to Oregon for their opening game Saturday.

“Right now, Jamari is way ahead of where I thought he might be at this point,” Jinks said. “Right now, he’s starting. He’ll be slotted to start.”

Bozeman played in 11 games during his true freshman season in 2015, then started every game as a sophomore, during which he was second on the team in tackles and earned a place on the All-MAC third team.

However, injuries derailed Bozeman’s 2017 season before it started. A torn labrum and a hip impingement required surgeries that kept him off the field for the entire year. The hip ailment coupled with a setback in recovery was serious enough Bowling Green feared he might never play again.

Jinks said in the spring that he wasn’t expecting Bozeman to return when the season started, but the safety planned on making his return for the season opener all along.

“I want to be the best Christmas gift coach Jinks ever had,” Bozeman told The Blade during spring practice. “I want to be the gift he wants the most.”

The injuries qualified Bozeman for a medical redshirt last season, making him a redshirt junior for this season. Bowling Green lists Bozeman at 174 pounds, down from 192 earlier in his career, but Jinks said Bozeman’s health has come far enough he will not miss the start of the season as BGSU originally expected.

That undoubtedly was welcome news for Bowling Green as it prepares for the No. 24 Ducks, who boast one of college football’s more potent offenses.

“It was a pretty significant injury that Jamari had to recover from,” Jinks said. “I think needs to be in there eating more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and put some of that weight back on.

“But Jamari’s a very instinctive football player and probably one of our smartest football players, truth be told.”

Contact Nicholas Piotrowicz at: npiotrowicz@theblade.com, 419-724-6110, or on Twitter @NickPiotrowicz.

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