The main reason the Redskins selected Chase Young second overall -- and why many draft experts deem him as a generational talent -- is because of his incredible ability to rush the quarterback.
But besides chasing after the passer, there's another aspect of the 21-year-old's game that he prides himself on: his run defense.
"It's definitely a big part of my game," Young told local media in a Zoom conference call on Monday.
When talking about Young's fantastic junior season with the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2019, his nation-leading 16.5 sacks are usually the first point in the conversation. However, the defensive end also led the team in tackles-for-loss (21) and finished fourth on the team in solo tackles despite missing two games due to suspension. As a whole, Young earned the highest overall grade by Pro Football Focus (96.1) of any defensive end in the website's history.
Young credited his success defending the run due to multiple film sessions he would have with head coach Ryan Day throughout the week during the fall.
"The first thing that we would watch to prepare for that game that week is the top five runs of our opponent that weekend," Young said. "That next day I would go into practice calling out plays, in the run game. And I think that’s why my game really excelled even more because I knew if it was a run. Play recognition when I would study film. I knew, if it’s this formation, 80 percent run. I knew, if it was this formation, it was going to be 20 percent run."
After playing sparingly as a freshman, Young broke onto the scene as a sophomore in 2018. In a September clash versus rival Penn State, Young had a stellar two sacks and three tackles for loss. However, with the game on the line, Young's biggest play of the evening came on a run play by the Nittany Lions.
Trailing by one with under a minute remaining, Penn State was faced with a tough fourth-and-5 situation from the Buckeyes' 43-yard line. The Nittany Lions tried to run a read-option, but Young stuffed the play in the backfield, sealing the victory for Ohio State.
Chase Young returns this weekend vs. No. 8 Penn State. Last year against the Nittany Lions, this happened ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/zlfbPLXIoI— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) November 23, 2019
From that game on, Young continued to get better. By the time his sophomore year concluded, he was already considered one of the best defensive ends in all of college football.
But a year later, Young entered the 2019 season hungrier than ever. That resulted in his stellar 2019 campaign, one his former head coach called "dominant."
"I feel like, play recognition throughout my run game, and obviously from my freshman year to junior year, I got a lot stronger," Young said. "My balance has gotten a lot better. My hand placement, my lockout has gotten a lot better since my junior year. I feel like I play the run real good, I feel like I play double teams real good, I feel like I play pulling guards real good."
Young understands that sacks are the flashy thing that comes with being a defensive lineman; he racked up plenty of those in his college career. But the No. 2 overall pick emphasized that he doesn't want his sack count to distract everyone from the impact he has defending the ground game, too.
"You know obviously, you know, where you get your money is, they say, per se, is sacks," he said. "So, I feel like those sacks maybe overshadow what I do in the run game. But I feel like those people that know ball for real, when you go back and just watch my film of my run game, I feel like they know what I do in the run game."
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