Ohio State has gone through many changes this off season. A new head coach, a nearly entirely new defensive staff, tons of contributors headed to the NFL and a transfer quarterback are just some the highlights of the eventful winter. However, one thing was certain to remain the same. Larry Johnson would be leading another talented and deep defensive line into the season. Johnson has done a marvelous job since he got to Columbus and was recently rewarded with a promotion to associate head coach after Ryan Day took over the head job.
During his time at Ohio State, Johnson has coached more than his fair share of players that have moved onto the NFL; Sam Hubbard, Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa, Michael Bennett and Jalyn Holmes just to name a few. Heading into the 2019 season, Johnson will have someone on his line that is arguably just as talented and capable as any of his previous stars; Chase Young.
Young is a 6-foot-5, 260-pound defensive end from Hyattsville, Maryland and the high school football powerhouse DeMatha Catholic. He was a consensus five-star recruit and was the number one ranked player in the state of Maryland when he came out of high school, earning a selection to the U.S. Army All-American team. Young has had eyes on him from the minute that he stepped foot on campus in Columbus, and while the start of his career has been a bit up and down, he has yet to disappoint the fans.
In his freshman season, Young saw the field for nine games and was able to rack up 19 tackles, including six for loss. He also had 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Even though he only averaged around two tackles per game, he was still a force to be reckoned with drawing the attention of offensive linemen even as a freshman.
During his sophomore season, he broke out in a big way. With the loss of Nick Bosa during the third game of the season the Buckeyes needed Young to step up and become “the guy” right away. From a statistical basis, he answered that call, amassing 33 tackles, 14.5 for loss and 9.5 sacks throughout the season. However, there were large swaths of the season when Young seemed to disappear; where it seemed that the additional attention that being “the guy” brings was too much for him to overcome. Then again, at times, he more than looked capable of handling it.
Young proved his worth on the biggest of stages of the season, by having his two best game against Penn State and in the Big Ten Championship Game against Northwestern. In the Penn State contest, he finished with six tackles, including three for loss and two sacks. In the Northwestern match up, he totaled three tackles with all of them being sacks of quarterback Clayton Thorson.
Young will have massive expectations to meet in 2019, as for the first time he is arguably the defense’s most talented player, bringing with that even more focus from offensive coordinators and linemen. He will be forced to work through double-teams and myriad looks as offenses try to keep him away from the ball-carrier.
Young highlights another deep defensive line group for Johnson. Robert Landers, Jonathon Cooper, Tyreke Smith, Davon Hamilton and Zach Harrison will all see varying degrees of playing time, and the Buckeyes will also look to Haskell Garrett, Tommy Togiai and Tyler Friday to get valuable minutes on the field.
These are all great players and will provide solid contributions for the Ohio State defense and Larry Johnson, but none of them are Chase Young. Young will be one of the best defensive players in the league and if he declares for the draft following the season — which seems like a strong possibility — he will be in the conversation to be one of the top picks, just as Bosa is this year.
Young can be a fun and dynamic player to watch, and certainly has the potential to have a dominate season on the line. He is now an upperclassman, with two years of experience, and with that comes extra responsibility, expectations, and attention. If he is able to handle all of that and maneuver through what offenses throw at him, Buckeye fans should be very excited with what he’s able to do this fall.