COLUMBUS – Sophomore defensive end Chase Young led Ohio State in sacks (9.5) and tackles for losses (14.5) this season, but he thinks his first year as a starter could have been better.
In fact, he knows it could have been better.
Before Ohio State left for the Rose Bowl, Young revealed that he had played hurt most of the season. He says he played most of the year at about 80 percent of full strength but is back to 100 percent now.
Young – who was ranked No. 7 overall nationally in the 2017 recruiting class – had three sacks against Northwestern in the Big Ten championship game, a tackle for loss against Michigan, and two sacks at Maryland.
Those big numbers during OSU’s stretch run coincided with Young having two healthy legs underneath him.
“A lot of people don’t know I rolled both my ankles during the season. Even in the Penn State game (when he had two sacks and stopped the Nittany Lions final play) both my ankles were rolled. That Maryland game was the first game I felt I could trust my ankles,” he said.
Young sprained his left ankle in the season opener against Oregon State, then suffered a high ankle sprain of his left ankle in the third game of the season against TCU.
OSU’s 52-51 overtime win at Maryland was the turning point as far as getting healthy, Young said. “The way I was getting off the ball, I could play more freely. The Purdue and Minnesota games, I just didn’t feel comfortable and didn’t trust it. Later in the season it got better,” he said.
The defensive line injury everyone knew about, Nick Bosa’s season-ending groin injury, also affected Young.
“He was going to try to break some records this year. It affected the whole defensive line’s game because Nick early in the year was going to get double or triple teamed. That would give me chances to go off. When he left it put a lot of pressure on me, Dre’Mont (Jones) and Coop (Jonathan Cooper). It affected us. But it didn’t affect us too much because we still won the Big Ten championship,” Young said.
So, can Ohio State expect even more from Young next season? And will he be a first-round draft choice, like Bosa will be in the upcoming 2019 NFL draft?
“I’m not even worried about that. I’ve got a whole year,” Young said about the 2020 draft.
“My job is not even to focus on it and stay locked in with Coach J (defensive line coach Larry Johnson). I’ve got to get stronger and faster. My play recognition has to get better. I’m just trying to stay focused on getting better,” he said. “What comes is going to come. Everything is going to come if I play hard.”