Should Chase Young Be A Heisman Finalist?

Aug 31, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Chase Young (2) during the first half against the Florida Atlantic Owls at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive players are not usually selected as finalists for the Heisman Trophy, and when they are, they almost always finish in last place. In fact, only one primarily defensive player has won the Heisman Trophy. That was in 1997 when Charles Woodson, a Michigan cornerback and punt returner who led his team to the National Championship that year, won it.

Quarterbacks and running backs have dominated Heisman voting, and that looks to continue this year with Jalen Hurts, Joe Burrow, and Tua Tagovailoa running the show. However, this could be a year where a defensive player gets some Heisman recognition. Ohio State junior defensive end Chase Young has been one of the most dominant players of the past decade and deserves to be a Heisman finalist.

The Heisman Trophy is given to the “most outstanding player” in college football every year. It’s understandable why quarterbacks and running backs are given preference over other non-skill position players. They are the most well-known, featured, and celebrated players on each team, making them favorites.

However, elite defensive players like Young should be acknowledged and not punished in the Heisman vote for playing on the wrong side of the ball.

Young has recorded 13.5 sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss, and five forced fumbles through eight games this season. With an average of 1.69 sacks per game, he is on pace to have over 20 sacks by the end of the season. This also does not include any sacks that he would record during the Big 10 Championship Game or the playoffs. Young is likely to have the most sacks in a single season in the NCAA since 2002. The future top-five draft pick has dominated and continues to dominate against elite-level Big 10 talent as well.

Young has been arguably the best player on the current top-ranked team in the country. His stellar play has transformed the Buckeyes into the most feared defensive team in college football. Ohio State gives up only 224.3 yards per game, despite facing solid teams including Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Cincinnati. Additionally, they have only given up six offensive touchdowns all season. That is less than a touchdown per game. The leader of the No. 1 team and No. 1 defense in the entire nation deserves to be at least given an invite to the Heisman Trophy Award Ceremony in December.

If the Heisman trophy truly honors the “most outstanding player” in college football each year, Young should at least be in the top-five conversation. While quarterbacks like Burrow, Hurts, and Tagovailoa are comparable and put up similar dominant numbers, no defensive end (or any defensive player, for that matter) in all of college football dominates and influences a game like Young. Young is miles above his competition of the same position in both talent level and production.

I’m not saying that Young will win the Heisman, and I’m not even saying that he should win the Heisman. It will probably go to a quarterback and deservedly so. Hurts, Burrow, and Tagovailoa have done more than enough to make their Heisman cases, and one of them, will probably be rewarded.

I am saying, however, that Young and his unbelievable and superior performances should get the recognition he deserves.


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