The buzz for Ohio State defensive end Chase Young to win the Heisman Trophy was palpable during the Buckeyes demolition of Wisconsin last Saturday. Young was a one-man wrecking crew of the Badgers offense.
The 6-foot-5, 265-pound junior recorded four sacks, a school record, that added to his NCAA leading total. Young now has 13.5 sacks, the next closest player is SMU’s Patrick Nelson, who has 10. Young also has 15.5 tackles for loss, which is second among defensive players.
The performance wowed one television analyst, who was part of the Fox Sports coverage of the game. Brady Quinn announced that Young, “was the best player in college football.”
Young’s coach seconded that opinion after the game. Ryan Day said he has seen college and pro players, and Young is one of the best.
“He’s probably the most dominant player in all of college football now,” Day said. “And his impact in a game like this goes to show his versatility. This was not just a passing game where you go after the quarterback. You had to play tough and gritty inside.”
Chase Young Finally Joins Heisman Hopefuls
While offensive lineman can’t seem to stop the defensive end, Young’s Heisman traction was being blocked very effectively. The only defensive player to win the award was Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997. Though the cornerback was also credited for his wide receiving and punt returns.
No full-time defensive player has ever won the award, and it has become an award for quarterbacks the last 20 years. Since 2000, QBs have won the Heisman all but three times. The other award-winners were running backs, and USC’s Reggie Bush vacated the award in 2005.
Young was such a non-factor for the Heisman that he wasn’t even listed on the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook’s opening odds in February. He still wasn’t listed in September, but was finally put on the board after Saturday’s game.
At 20/1, he doesn’t even have the lowest odds on his own team. Buckeye quarterback Justin Fields is 10/1.
Wisconsin Game Turning Point
Saturday at the Horseshoe, though, Young had his coming out party, and it made him the new hope to overthrow favorite Joe Burrow of LSU. Burrow started off as a longshot as well, but his play the last month has now got him at even money.
Another couple of strong performances, and Young could be right there with him. Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst, like many other coaches who have had to face the talented defensive end, came away a believer.
“You’re trying to have protections that give whoever’s with him, on him, responsible for him, some form of help,” Chryst said. “A couple times we had it, we weren’t successful in taking care of that. And then there’s sometimes they can force it to where it still ends up being a one-on-one.”
Day said Young should keep proving he is the best defensive player in the country.
“I thought his intensity and the way he approached that game was special,” Day said. “You could tell he played with a chip on his shoulder. But that’s only good if he keeps continuing to play that way, and I think that’s why you’ve got to give him credit. Week in and week out, he’s played the same way. He’s been consistent, he’s been tough, he’s been productive.”