As defensive end Chase Young sat out Ohio State’s previous two games because of an NCAA rules violation, he developed a routine.
Young watched the games on TV but also made sure to go through an intense workout during the day.
“Almost act like I was playing a game,” Young said.
He wanted to remain in shape.
Sure enough, he showed no sign of rustiness in his return Saturday, although it had been nearly a month since he last appeared on the field for Ohio State.
In a 28-17 win over Penn State on Saturday, Young had three sacks and four tackles for loss, surpassing Vernon Gholston’s season sack record at Ohio State by reaching 16.5. Young’s nine total tackles were also a career-high.
“You could see the hunger in his eye to get back on the field,” defensive lineman Jashon Cornell said. “I knew when we came out for our team walk that there was something different about him. He was just locked in and ready to go.”
Young said his absence wasn’t an easy wait.
“It was real tough, hitting adversity,” Young said, “but I had all the support from my family, team and Buckeye Nation.”
Young picked up right where he left off, when he had four sacks in a win over Wisconsin on Oct. 26.
It was a strong enough return that coach Ryan Day went so far as to stump for Young to be selected as one of the finalists for the Heisman Trophy.
“The impact he has on the game is just unbelievable,” Day said.
Defensive co-coordinator Jeff Hafley thought Young’s biggest sack occurred with a little more than two minutes left in the game when Young brought down backup Will Levis, a significant setback as the Nittany Lions began what would be their final drive.
“It was finally to the point where we knew they had to drop back and throw the ball,” Hafley said.
On the next play, Young helped create more pressure before linebacker Baron Browning sacked Levis.
“For them to finish off the game like they did, that whole series was impressive,” Hafley added.
Young also converged with Cornell for a sack on a third down in the third quarter that prompted Penn State to kick a field goal rather than keep trying for a touchdown that would have tied the score at 21. Instead, the Buckeyes remained ahead 21-17.