Halloween was still five days away but Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan already was being haunted Saturday afternoon.
Ohio State’s Chase Young, the nightmarish 6-foot-5, 265-pound defensive end with the long golden dreadlocks and the black and blue intent, was living up to his name.
He was chasing Coan – and catching him — all game long.
“It’s hard. It’s real hard,” OSU coach Ryan Day, himself once a college quarterback, said of Coan’s game-long dilemma. “You start to feel ghosts and see ghosts, especially when he’s on your backside. Are you getting the ball out fast enough?
“If you’re a quarterback, you certainly know he’s over there and you want to keep half an eye on him, which certainly affects your game.”
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields also knows what Coan and other opposing quarterbacks go through thanks to Young: “I feel bad for them honestly because Chase, in practice, can get back there pretty much whenever he wants.
“He’s probably the best defensive player in the country, so I’m just glad he’s on my team.”
Ohio State manhandled No. 13 Wisconsin, 38-7, Saturday at rain-soaked Ohio Stadium and one of the big reasons was Young.
He sacked Coan four times, which tied an OSU record for most sacks in a game.
He had five tackles for a loss which also tied an OSU record.
He forced two fumbles in the game, a feat which he matched against the Miami RedHawks this season.
His 13.5 sacks lead major college football and are just a half sack away from the Buckeyes all-time record in a season – 14 by Vernon Gholston in 2007.
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And the unbeaten, No. 4 Buckeyes still have four regular season games left and almost certainly a berth the Big Ten championship game and a slot in the college playoffs.
Young, a junior from Upper Marlboro, Md. now has a string of 10 straight games with a sack and has 27.5 sacks in his career. That ties him with Jason Simmons for the second-best career total in OSU history and has him 8.5 behind all-time leader Mike Vrabel, who ended his career with 36.
“He’s probably the most dominant player in all of college football now,” Day said of Young after Saturday’s game.
“He’s the best I’ve been around. I had a chance to see Nick Bosa last year and I coached in the NFL and saw some really good players at different times. But he is as good as I’ve seen … because he’s so versatile.”
It’s a mantra that’s been mouthed all season long by people who have witnessed Young wreck one opponent’s game after another.
Lane Kiffin, the former NFL coach whose Florida Atlantic team opened the season against the Buckeyes, put it like this:
“The guy looks like a Predator. There’s only 10 guys like him in the world.”
While the superhero buildup certainly captures Young’s presence on the field, away from it you see a different picture.
When he emerged from the dressing room to talk to the press after his destruction of the Badgers, the menace was gone.
He wore dangling crosses as earrings and had just a wisp of a moustache he’s trying to grow on something of a baby face. He’s polite and introspective and spoke of other things than his day bulling though, jumping over and streaking around the over-matched Badgers’ lineman on his way to rushing, confusing and often upending Coan.
After his fourth sack he had walked off the field with his arms extended, as if making a statement.
Someone asked him about it and he surprised everyone with is answer.
“I felt my grandfather with me,” he said of his granddad, Carl Robinson. “I got him tatted on me and I just felt his presence….(It came) blindly, out of nowhere and that was just me putting my arms up and acknowledging him.”
Later he added: “He was always real special to me. That was my guy.”
After the game he had sought out Ryan Day’s family and spoke with them. Often he does the same with the family of defensive line coach Larry Johnson and his own mom and dad, Greg and Carla Young.
They’re responsible for his size and his make-up.
His dad is a burly 6-foot-10 and once played basketball at Bowie State. His mom is 6-feet.
His parents taught him a work ethic, mom working 32 years for the Department of Transportation and dad working for the Arlington County sheriff’s office.
And they both gave him a structure and vision beyond the sports world.
Before Young transferred to DeMatha High outside Washington, D.C., he went to St. Vincent Pallotti High in Laurel, Maryland and was in the school choir and played piano, saxophone and violin.
Earlier this season he spoke about some of the rules his parents had for him:
No TV in his room. No cell phone until high school. No tattoos until college. Church every Sunday. And from age seven he said he washed and ironed his own clothes.
Saturday, Day talked about what that has done for his stellar defensive end:
“His leadership has been off the charts.”
Young likely will be one of – if not the – top pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Although that would mean leaving school year early, he has not taken his school lightly. He’s a criminal justice major, following in the path of his dad and two uncles who also were in law enforcement.
He’s talked about one day – once football is done – maybe being a street detective or even an FBI agent.
He has not mentioned joining the Ghostbusters.
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