When DeMatha Catholic High School defensive end Chase Young started working with personal trainer Martin Gibson in the spring of his senior year, the then-senior told Gibson he would be the highest drafted player he’s ever trained.
Young was in the process of putting more than 30 pounds on his 6-foot-6, 223-pound frame to get ready for his freshman year at Ohio State.
Young came to Columbus as the top player from the state of Maryland and No. 7 recruit in the country, according to the 247 Sports Composite. His athleticism and desire to always get better meant he had the potential to be an NFL player, but one year later, that goal he set with Gibson became a lot harder. Gibson also trained Saquon Barkley, who was drafted second overall by the New York Giants in 2018.
But Young kept working. After a breakout sophomore campaign last fall, the DeMatha alum has become the most dominant player in the country. Despite missing two games due to an NCAA violation, Young still broke the Buckeyes single-season sack record in just nine games after taking down the quarterback three times in a 28-17 win over No. 8 Penn State on Nov. 23, increasing his total to 16.5.
“Oh my gosh, I just think Chase Young deserves to be in New York (for the Heisman Trophy ceremony),” Ohio State head coach Ryan Day told the media after the game. “How dominant of a player is Chase Young? And the impact he has on the game is just unbelievable.”
The record-breaking sack was a typical play for Young this season. With 5:06 remaining in the third quarter and Ohio State leading 21-14, Nittany Lions quarterback Will Levis dropped back to pass. Levis, who entered the game after starter Sean Clifford left with an injury, never had a chance. Young drove left tackle Will Fries into the backfield, getting to Levis before he knew what was happening.
The game was also significant for Young because it was his first game back after being suspended two games due to NCAA violations. Young accepted a loan from a family friend he met before his freshman year to fly his girlfriend to the 2019 Rose Bowl against Washington, which he eventually paid back in full. Initial reports said he would miss the rest of the regular season, but he only missed blowout wins against Maryland and Rutgers.
“It was amazing,” Young said. “To come back and be out on the field with my brothers, it felt real good.”
Though Young’s suspension stalled the momentum of a longshot Heisman trophy campaign, he got some of it back against Penn State. He’s been dominating all season, but a four-sack performance against then No. 13 Wisconsin was his coming out party.
Young almost single-handedly tore apart a Wisconsin team known for outstanding line play and physically dominating opponents. He set a single-game team record with four sacks and forced two fumbles.
That left him half a sack short of the team’s single-season sack record, though it was not something on the front of his mind.
“Going into the season, you want to play the best and break every record,” Young told the media after beating the Badgers. “But right now, I can’t be worried about the sack record. I have to be worried about perfecting my craft and doing what I do, and those things will come.”
To current DeMatha defensive coordinator Will Weathers, that is not a surprise. Young has always been humble, which is what makes him the player he is.
“He’s always going to strive to be better,” Weathers said. “There’s no one to compare him to because he always wants to be better. It’s not just the skillset, but he has the mindset.”
With his stellar season, Young is a near-lock to forego his senior season and declare for the NFL Draft. Depending on how the rest of the NFL season plays out, he may be able to keep that promise he made to Gibson in the spring of 2017.
“He’s worked his butt off and (it’s) been a blessing to see it,” Gibson said. “I just think it’s a blessing to sit back and watch someone who’s not only talked about it and also done it with action.”