Ohio State's Chase Young revives a Heisman campaign voters better recognize

Sporting News

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State coach Ryan Day put it out there in the simplest of terms when asked about defensive end Chase Young's performance in the Buckeyes' 28-17 victory against No. 8 Penn State on Saturday.

"Oh, my gosh," he said. "I just think Chase Young deserves to be in New York. How dominant of a player is Chase Young? The impact he has on the game is just unbelievable."

That is undeniable after watching Young lead No. 2 Ohio State in the home finale at Ohio Stadium with nine tackles, four tackles for loss and three sacks in his first game back from a two-game suspension. If the Heisman Trophy voters have common sense, then they will see that and make him at least a finalist.

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The best of the best can see that. Houston Texas defensive end J.J. Watt and Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James were among those who heaped on praise for Young, who now has 16.5 sacks for the season. That is Ohio State's single-season record.

That monster has inherited the nickname "The Predator" as a result, but the two-game suspension might be a detriment to the Heisman Trophy campaign.

The simple truth is it shouldn't be, especially after hearing Young apologize again for taking the loan that led to the suspension.

"I just made a mistake and put it behind me and keep moving forward," Young said.

Young did that against Penn State, and it was a sack of backup quarterback Will Levis early in the fourth quarter that helped force a punt. Ohio State scored on the next possession to regain control after giving up 17 straight points in the third quarter.

Without Young, the Buckeyes' defense is good enough to win the Big Ten. With him, this team is good enough to win the national championship.

In between, Young revived a Heisman case that peaked after a four-sack performance against Wisconsin. The suspension followed, and he spent the last two weeks getting mental reps while watching the Buckeyes at home. The Heisman was not on his mind.

"I try not to look at what happened and all those rewards while we're in season," he said. "That was pretty much the last thing I was worried about."

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Young stopped short of saying his return was personal, but it was a dominant performance in a game that clinched a third straight Big Ten East championship for the Buckeyes. He has two more big stages with "The Game" against Michigan and the Big Ten championship.

What does that mean for his chances? A 20-plus-sack season could do the trick. Arizona State's Terrell Suggs had 24 sacks in 2002, and Alabama's Derrick Thomas had 27 sacks in 1988 (before the NCAA recognized the statistic). Louisville's Elvis Dumervil is the last to hit the mark, with 20 sacks in 2005.

The difference? Young plays on a national championship contender and is the most dominant player on the field. LSU's Joe Burrow and Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts are in that conversation as well, though Burrow is the likely winner at this point.

But yes, Young deserves to be there. Day sees that. The voters should, too. That's because he deserves to be there.

"It means a lot from our leader, Coach Day, to say that," Young said. "I just thank God to put me in this position and just go out on the field and play."

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