COLUMBUS, Ohio — Seven months ago, Chase Young arrived at Ohio State’s ‘Friday Night Lights’ camp with little to prove — or so he thought.
A 5-star prospect, Young was one of the top players in attendance in what wound up being a star-studded camp. At that point, the second-ranked weakside defensive end in the 2017 class already possessed scholarship offers from nearly every major program in the country, including Alabama, USC, Florida State, Clemson and Notre Dame.
The Buckeyes, however, had been recruiting Young the hardest and he was already considering committing to Ohio State while on the trip. What he wasn’t expecting, however, was to be called out at the camp by another prospect in attendance.
Yet after finishing individual drills with Buckeyes defensive line coach Larry Johnson, that’s exactly the situation in which Young found himself.
“I was just doing drills,” Young recalled to Land of 10 on Friday’s Inside the Shoe Ohio State podcast. “Coach Johnson, his drills, hand drills and stuff like that for about 30 minutes or so. After, it was one-on-ones. I went over there and I watched a few. There was this lineman who wanted to go to Ohio State. I guess he wanted a challenge and he pointed me out. He wasn’t the only one, too; there were about two or three of them pointing me out, but he was the first one.”
Young had planned to take it easy at the camp, but he wasn’t about to back down. Especially not since Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer had joined Johnson in what had become a growing scene.
“I was like, ‘Nah, Coach Johnson, I can’t go like that,'” Young remembers. “So I gave him what he asked for and I beat him both times in front of Coach Meyer.”
At that point, Meyer had seen enough and gave the Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha Catholic product one last impassioned plea. The two had previously talked about Young going public with his pledge at Friday Night Lights and Meyer didn’t want to let the moment pass.
Young went to talk to his parents, who were seated in the nearby stands. After a 10-minute conversation, the family invited Meyer and Johnson to join them, before breaking into celebration.
Young had officially committed to Ohio State — although his recruitment was far from over.
— CY2 (@youngchase907) July 25, 2016
As he embarked on an impressive high school senior season — in which he tallied 37 tackles-for-loss and 19 sacks — the No. 8 player in the 2017 class routinely heard from some of the nation’s top programs. Chief among his calls list last fall, however, wasn’t a perennially power, but rather his home-state school.
“Oh, the University of Maryland,” Young answered immediately when asked what school recruited him the hardest after he had issued his commitment. “It was just a ‘stay home’ movement, ‘there’s no place like home’ and stuff like that. They just really tried the ‘I can stay home’ thing and really own my city and stuff like that. Come in and start Day 1.”
Ultimately, Terrapins coach D.J. Durkin’s hometown hero sales pitch to Young was unsuccessful.
“I actually wanted to get away from home,” Young said.
The remainder of his recruitment proved uneventful — although he did visit Maryland Stadium to see the Buckeyes beat the Terrapins 62-3 last November. Alabama also made a run at the 6-foot-5, 251-pound prospect, but couldn’t overcome a poor summer visit Young had taken to Tuscaloosa.
Plus, it was Meyer’s pitch to Young that resonated most.
“I trusted Coach Meyer. I trusted Coach Johnson, especially,” Young said. “Coach Johnson, when he would talk to me, he would tell me about how he develops his players. When I came down for my first visit, all the players just accepted me like I was already there. It’s just a real great brotherhood.
“Coach Johnson has a great relationship with all his D-linemen … Coach Meyer, he’s a winner, so you know you’re going to be competing for national championships.”
On a loaded defensive line, playing time could be hard to come by at Ohio State next season, but both Meyer and Johnson have a history of using creative lineups to showcase multiple pass-rushers. For now, Young remains focused on adding muscle in order to reach his target weight of 255-260 pounds before arriving in Columbus in June.
When he does, a familiar face will greet him in the Buckeyes locker room. The player who called him out at Friday Night Lights last June, 4-star offensive tackle Thayer Munford, committed to Ohio State on National Signing Day.
“I don’t think it will be weird or anything,” Young said. “It was just a good competition and the competitive nature to win.”
It was why he committed to the Buckeyes in the first place.