The single-most prestigious award in college football is the Heisman Trophy. Ohio State Junior defensive end Chase Young‘s Heisman hype is justified. As of today, the sports media conglomerates are planning on handing the trophy to LSU’s Joe Burrow. Burrow certainly deserves recognition, I cannot deny, though there isn’t a single defensive player in the nation that strikes fear into the hearts of coaches quite like Chase Young.
Chase Young Deserves Heisman Hype
Big Game, Big Moments
When it comes to the Heisman trophy, every winner has their “Heisman moment.” For Derrick Henry, it was the game-sealing 4th down touchdown in the Iron Bowl. Lamar Jackson‘s was his performance against the then-2nd ranked Florida State Seminoles. Many believe that Burrow’s moment was his performance against Alabama, but Chase Young’s was on Saturday. Against Penn State, Young harrassed the Nittany Lions for nine total tackles, four of which were for loss, three sacks, and two forced fumbles. In a game that really wasn’t all that close (or, it shouldn’t have been close), Young was able to make up for a rare turnover-plagued Justin Fields and J.K. Dobbins. Without Young, perhaps this game would have been decided by significantly less.
“Big deal, he had one big game.” Alas, this is not quite right. Against the other great B1G foe, Wisconsin, Young dominated. In this matchup, Chase Young’s Heisman hype was bolstered by a six tackle (five for loss), four sack, two forced fumble performance. Quarterback Jack Coen and Heisman hopeful Jonathan Taylor were kept in check all game en route to a 38-7 drubbing. To put this into perspective, Taylor’s worst career games have come at the hands of the Buckeyes. He managed 52 yards and no touchdowns here and 41 yards and no touchdowns in the 2017 B1G Title Game.
Voters Love Stats
I will agree that Burrow’s stats are impressive. He is 2nd in the nation in completions (291), yards (4014), touchdowns (41), and passer efficiency rating (203.7). Burrow also leads the nation in completion percentage at an absurd 78.9%. The Chase Young Heisman campaign is just as impressive, if not more. Statistically, Young has had one of the greatest individual performances. His numbers are slightly underrepresented due to the fact that he had only appeared in the 2nd half of, now, three games. Imagine the Chase Young Heisman numbers if he had to play all four quarters against teams like Maryland or Rutgers like Burrow had to when he played Ole Miss and Arkansas.
This season, Young leads the nation in sacks with 16.5 and forced fumbles with 7. Interestingly enough, he broke the B1G single-season sack record against Penn State and is only three behind Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan‘s career record mark of 34 sacks. With games against Michigan, Minnesota/Wisconsin, and a potential two CFP games, that goal seems well within reach. The only stat where Young is not at the top of the list is tackles for loss, where he is 3rd nationwide. His 21 tackles for loss is good for best in the B1G, however.
Gotta Fight The Narrative
When was the last time a defensive player won the Heisman? It was Charles Woodson…in 1997. The closest a defensive player had come to hoisting the trophy since then was Ndamukong Suh in 2009. Young’s stats are comparable, but the fact that Young rarely plays into the 4th quarter hurts him. In his 14 game season, Suh posted 85 total tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, and 1 interception. In five fewer games (and significantly fewer snaps), Young is at 38 total tackles, 21 for loss, and 16.5 sacks. With potentially four additional games in his future, Chase Young’s Heisman resume could be even more impressive than Suh’s…and that’s saying something.
Before the season, players like Taylor, Fields, and Tua Tagovailoa had the best odds to win the Heisman trophy. If you wanted to bet on Chase Young’s Heisman candidacy, you would have been hard-pressed to find odds. Today, his odds are currently at 14/1. While these odds are still better than no odds at all, it is still a steep bet. Despite posting one of the most impressive individual seasons in B1G history (which is saying something), the oddsmakers still do not give the Junior the proper respect.
The Predator Is Coming
The Chase Young Heisman hype is real. There have been plenty of impressive defensive campaigns worthy of some discussion, but what Young is doing this season is special. Consider this: Ohio State has produced elite defensive line talent over the years in Nick Bosa, Joey Bosa, Cameron Heyward, and Vernon Gholston. What Young is doing this year is better than all of their best seasons. That’s terrifying. Maybe coach Ryan Day will incorporate Young into their offense to get him a touchdown in the next couple of games in an attempt to cater to the voters’ offensive-minded biases. I do not write this to take away from the phenomenal seasons that Joe Burrow, Jonathan Taylor, and Chuba Hubbard are having. I just want an elite defensive player to get the recognition and respect he deserves.
EDIT: Since this piece’s initial publishing, Chase Young’s Heisman odds have fallen to 20/1.