Another new group of Buckeyes are about to officially become NFL players.
Ohio State is set to be one of the most well-represented schools in the NFL draft once again in 2020. More than a dozen players from last year’s team are expected to either be drafted or sign as undrafted free agents when this year’s draft is held later this month from April 23-25.
From the Shoe to the Show
In the days leading up to the draft, we’re taking a look back at the highlights from each of those former Buckeyes’ scarlet and gray careers in From the Shoe to the Show.
We start with Ohio State’s top prospect this year, Chase Young, who is considered by many to be the top player in the entire draft. Young put himself in position to be a top-three overall pick in this year’s draft with a spectacular three-year career at Ohio State in which he recorded 30.5 sacks, the second-most in school history, and backed up his five-star status as a recruit by becoming the most dominant defensive player in college football.
Young was a frequent presence on the highlight reel throughout his Ohio State career, especially in 2019. That gave us plenty of possibilities to choose from for him, but the following achievements were among the most notable milestones and performances.
2017 Maryland: First career sack, forced fumble
With four defensive ends who are already in the NFL (Nick Bosa, Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis and Jalyn Holmes) on the depth chart ahead of him, Young only saw occasional playing time as a true freshman in 2017, but he still managed to record 19 tackles, six tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. His first sack, as well as his first forced fumble, came against his home-state school.
Ohio State already had a 48-7 lead over Maryland late in the third quarter when Young – who began the play lined up across from the left guard as a standup rusher – chased down Terrapins quarterback Max Bortenschlager as he attempted to scramble to his right. Young got his arms around Bortenschlager and sent the ball flying out of his hands, enabling fellow Buckeye defensive lineman (and 2020 NFL draft prospect) Jashon Cornell to hunt down the loose ball for a fumble recovery.
That play might have been quickly forgotten because of the lopsided nature of the game, but it gave us one of our first glimpses at just how disruptive Young could be.
2018 Penn State: Game-sealing stop caps dominant performance
The first signature play of Young’s career came in Ohio State’s thrilling fourth-quarter comeback win at Penn State in 2018, when he blew up a rushing attempt by Nittany Lions running back Miles Sanders on 4th-and-5 with less than two minutes remaining in the game to seal a 27-26 win for the Buckeyes.
Lined up across from Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth, Young darted inside and blew by Penn State right tackle Will Fries to cut down Sanders before he even reached the line of scrimmage, ensuring the Buckeyes would return home with a win.
Young sacked Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley just three plays earlier, and also had two half-sacks earlier in the game, marking the first of four times in his Ohio State career that Young recorded three or more tackles for loss in a game.
Young came up with another big fourth-down stop late in the third quarter, too, when he broke up a McSorley pass intended for Freiermuth.
2018 Big Ten Championship Game: First 3-sack game
Young only made three tackles in Ohio State’s 2018 Big Ten Championship Game win over Wisconsin, but all three of them were significant, as he recorded three sacks in a single game for the first time in his collegiate career in the Buckeyes’ 45-24 win over Northwestern.
His first sack of the game was of the strip sack variety, as he clobbered Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson on his blind side and popped the ball out of his hand. While the play was initially ruled an incomplete pass, it was overturned to a fumble upon review, giving Young a sack and Jordan Fuller a fumble recovery, as the ball hopped into his hands.
Young later chased down Thorson for another sack in the third quarter, thwarting another drive at a time that Ohio State was only ahead by three points. He took Thorson down once more on Northwestern’s final possession of the game, when he went unblocked on an inside stunt and got to the quarterback for an 8-yard loss.
2019 Cincinnati: Blocked field goal
While most of Young’s big plays throughout his Ohio State career came on defense, he also made a big play on special teams in the Buckeyes’ second game of the 2019 season against Cincinnati, when he used his ability to burst through the line of scrimmage and get into the backfield to block a 32-yard field goal attempt by Bearcats kicker Sam Crosa.
That wasn’t just the only field goal block of his Ohio State career, but the first time he has ever blocked a field goal in a game, he told reporters after the game.
Special teams isn’t going to be where Young makes his money in the NFL, but much like at Ohio State, NFL players are expected to contribute on special teams even if they’re starters. So it’s certainly possible Young can add more field goal blocks to his tally at the next level.
2019 Wisconsin: Wreaked havoc against the Badgers
As Ohio State cruised to blowout victories in its first seven games of last season, Young didn’t play many second-half snaps. That didn’t stop him from recording sacks in every one of those games, but it left a lingering question of just how gaudy Young’s statistics could be if he played for all four quarters.
When Ohio State finally faced some adversity in its eighth game of the season, and needed its best players to step up, Young showed just how dominant he could be by delivering what was not the only signature game of his career, but one of the best individual defensive performances in school history.
Young tied a pair of school records with five tackles for loss and four sacks and forced fumbles on each of his final two sacks, both of which were recovered by his Ohio State teammate Pete Werner, which helped the Buckeyes ultimately pull away and defeat Wisconsin, 38-7, despite leading by just three points early in the third quarter.
Young was named Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week and briefly moved to the forefront of the Heisman Trophy race as a result of his dominant game against the Badgers.
2019 Penn State: Another huge game, breaks school sack record in first game back from suspension
One day after the Wisconsin game, Ohio State was informed that Young had committed an NCAA violation, which forced him to sit out the Buckeyes’ next two games. He was able to come back for Ohio State’s homestretch of the season, though, which started with a showdown with Penn State, and he returned with a vengeance.
Young recorded nine total tackles, including four tackles for loss and three sacks, and another forced fumble to help lead Ohio State defeat the Nittany Lions, 28-17.
Young again was named Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against Penn State, and in the process, he all but locked up his ticket to New York as the first Ohio State defensive player to receive an invitation to the Heisman ceremony.
Surprisingly, those three sacks were the final three sacks Young would record in his Ohio State career – he drew constant double- and triple-team blocks in the Buckeyes’ final three games of the year – but that was enough for Young to reach 16.5 sacks for the season, breaking Vernon Gholston’s previous single-season school record of 14, and into second place on Ohio State’s career sacks list with 30.5 sacks in three seasons, behind only Mike Vrabel, who had 36 in four seasons.
Cleaned up the awards circuit
With the exception of the Heisman – he finished fourth in voting behind the quarterback trio of Joe Burrow (the one player also likely to be picked ahead of him in the draft), Jalen Hurts and Justin Fields – Young won just about every other individual award he was up for this past season.
Young became Ohio State’s first-ever winner of the Chuck Bednarik Award and second winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, both of which honor the nation’s best defensive player. He swept every Big Ten award he had a chance to win, becoming the first Ohio State defensive player to win the Silver Football as the conference’s top player while he was also named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Defensive Lineman of the Year. Young also won the Ted Hendricks Award as college football’s best defensive end and was named a unanimous first-team All-American.
With all of those accolades next to his name, Young cemented his place in history as one of Ohio State’s all-time greats. Soon, he will add yet another accomplishment to the list: Becoming a first-round NFL draft pick, after which he will start his journey to create many more highlights for years to come at the next level.