Larry Johnson Not Worried About the Depth Chart with Chase Young

Chase Young and Tate Martell

While high school campers milled about on the practice field inside the WHAC on Friday, Ohio State’s incoming freshmen were all being put through a workout of their own. One of those freshmen was 5-star defensive end Chase Young.

Young comes to OSU from Hyattsville, Maryland where he played at DeMatha Catholic High School. This past January, he participated in the Army All-American Bowl and was by many accounts the best player on the field throughout the game.

Ohio State has signed some blue-chip defensive ends over the years, including Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington, Jonathon Cooper, and a pair of Bosas, but Chase Young is arguably the most touted of the bunch.

He was the Washington Post’s All-Metropolitan Defensive Player of the Year following a senior season where he recorded 118 tackles, 37 tackles for loss, and 19 sacks in leading his team to a 12-0 record and a state championship last year. He also forced five fumbles, scoring twice — once on a fumble return and once on an interception return. As a junior, Young put up 27 tackles for loss and 19 sacks.

Clearly, production has never been a problem for him. The jump from high school to college, however, is rarely an easy one. It takes a special kind of player to be able to blend in as a freshman. Nick Bosa was able to do it last season, but that is not necessarily the norm.

Chase Young in 2017?

This season the Buckeyes return every pass rusher on the roster from a year ago, and they were all pretty darn productive in 2016. There isn’t necessarily a need for more cooks in the kitchen, unless they have their own unique recipes. The good news for Young is that he will receive an opportunity to show what he can do. What he does with it is entirely up to him.

“He will have an opportunity to compete,” OSU defensive line coach Larry Johnson said. “I think that is the bottom line. The thing that we have got to be careful about, that even if we have four guys returning, those four guys have got to work to keep their jobs, keep their status. It is going to be an open process, always have the ability to play the best players on the field. If he walks in and is ready to go and has got a chance to help us, then there is a good chance that we are going to find a way to use him.”

Nick Bosa and Jonathon Cooper were both freshmen a year ago. They came into a situation where the Buckeyes were returning defensive ends Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, and Jalyn Holmes. The job for the No. 4 defensive end was wide open, but that didn’t necessarily mean whoever won the job was going to see the field.

Bosa quickly showed that he belonged, and even though he never started a game, he was as much part of the first unit as anybody else. Cooper, meanwhile, wasn’t quite ready. Despite the glut of talent, the Buckeyes were able to rotate and find snaps for the players who deserved it. If Young can do the same this fall, then room will be found because Johnson loves what his young defensive end is capable of bringing to the defense.

“No question about it,” he said. “He has a lot of things that he brings to the table. Not only a great kid but he is a great student of the game and he really loves the game. Great football IQ. He has got some athleticism that I think is really unique for a guy that is 6-foot-6.”

Nick Bosa was brought along slowly during his first summer as a Buckeye because he was coming back from ACL surgery. There is no need to do the same with Chase Young. That could give him an advantage as he fights for a spot in a lineup that doesn’t really need him, but would absolutely love to have him.