Much like junior running back J.K. Dobbins, junior defensive end Chase Young was limited this spring as an established starter who doesn’t necessarily need the repetitions. He found unique ways of challenging himself this spring, though, including trying to record a sack on every single snap in practice, scrimmages and the annual spring game.
“The plays I do get, I go. I’m going lights out, as fast as I can,” Young said. “The plays I don’t get, I’m just making up for them.”
The lighter workload allowed Young to place extra emphasis on leadership, and — unsurprisingly — he’s taken sophomore defensive end Tyreke Smith under his wing.
“He has no choice but to step up,” Young said. “I’m in his grill every day. If he doesn’t get at least three sacks every day, it’s a problem. That’s what we all expect from him.”
“They are real good,” Young said. “I’m really excited to see them go out and just ball. I know they’ve been itching. They’re hungry and just waiting for their time.”
Young was actually in a similar spot last fall, looking to make an impact opposite of eventual first-round pick Nick Bosa. And despite Bosa’s season-ending injury and two sprained ankles of his own, he recorded 33 tackles, 14.5 tackles for a loss and 10 sacks last season.
“I had a pretty good season, but I know I can be better,” Young said, noting he continues to break down film with Bosa in an effort to improve his game. “He tells me what I can work on to try to reach my potential. I’m just trying to refine my technique — my hands, hips, catching linemen’s hands and throwing them.”
Bosa was supposed to keep Young free of double teams but was injured in the third game of the 2018 season, which forced Young to grow up quicker and play a bigger role for the Buckeyes than even he expected.
“I just really had to dial down,” Young said. “Every single play, I had to take more seriously and be more locked in than I’ve ever been.”
This year, Young has his sights set on Vernon Gholston’s single-season school record of 14 sacks. And under the tutelage of defensive line coach Larry Johnson and new co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, it feels easily attainable.
“Best of both worlds,” Young said of the offseason addition of Mattison, who was widely considered one of the best defensive line coaches in the country during his tenure at Michigan. “I’m really glad they’re both here. I call them the two OGs. I just try to be a sponge and soak up as many things as I can from both of them.
“Coach Mattison has really given us the ability to go play. Last year, we didn’t really do that. We just went to the ‘A’ gap, went to the ‘B’ gap. He’s basing scheme around of our defense and (the talent) we have. It lets us go. If I don’t have to go inside every play or crash down every third down, then the whole defensive line will have more productivity.”