How the Buckeyes Will Try to Replace Chase Young, Re-engineer Defensive Line
The Buckeyes return ten starters from their 2019 Big Ten championship team, including four on the defensive side of the ball. While Ohio State has significant returning leadership at linebacker, they have some holes to fill in critical spots -- perhaps none more so than filling the massive void left by Chase Young.
Last year, the defensive line was arguably the best in the country and Young was perhaps the most dominating force in College football. The D-line racked up 54.0 total sacks (led the NCAA), 3.86 sacks/game (third in the NCAA) and 124.0 total tackles for loss (led the NCAA).
Young had a fantastic season, recording 46 tackles, (21 of them for loss) and breaking the program's single-season sacks record with 16.5 sacks. Those numbers garnered him Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year honors and made him a Heisman trophy finalist.
But Ohio State isn’t replacing just Young. DaVon Hamilton, Robert Landers and Jashon Cornell accounted for 72 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks last year.
The good news for those who root for the Scarlet and Gray? The Ohio State defensive line factory has been tremendous at producing top-tier talent.
Look for Jonathon Cooper to be at the top of the depth chart for Ohio State come this fall. Cooper is coming off an ankle injury that sidelined him for the majority of last year, but he carries the most experience. A 2019 captain, Cooper has 53 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in his career.
Bank on sophomores Zach Harrison, Javontae Jean-Baptiste and juniors Tyreke Smith and Tyler Friday to be counted on too. Frankly, this group has the ability to step into the spotlight more so than maybe any other group on the team. Harrison and Jean-Baptiste played in all 14 games last year and combined for 38 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks. Smith and Friday played in 11 of OSU’s contests and together totaled 20 tackles and 8.0 tackles for loss.
On the interior portion of the defensive line, seniors Antwuan Jackson and Haskell Garrett and juniors Tommy Togiai and Jerron Cage are returning. Togiai recorded 16 tackles in 14 games last year, Jackson followed with 13 tackles. Garrett saw action in 11 games and garnered 10 tackles while Cage played in nine games with just 4 tackles.