After a prolific junior season, defensive end Chase Young will leave Ohio State for the NFL, where he is expected to be one of the top picks in the league’s draft this spring.


The expected announcement came Friday afternoon in a post published on his social media accounts.


Young starred as the Buckeyes’ top pass rusher during their return to the College Football Playoff, finishing with 16½ sacks to set the single-season school record.


Few players were more productive over their college careers than Young, who compiled 30½ sacks in three seasons, second-most on Ohio State’s all-time list, behind Mike Vrabel, who had 36 sacks from 1993-96.


"After an amazing three years at Ohio State, it’s time for me to begin the next chapter," Young wrote, thanking God, family, coaches and teammates in his announcement letter.


Most analysts expect Young to be taken near the top of the draft, with the Cincinnati Bengals holding the No. 1 overall pick, followed by the Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions.


If Young were taken by the Redskins, it would mark a homecoming. He grew up in the Washington suburbs in Maryland.


Nick Bosa, a former standout pass rusher for the Buckeyes, was selected second overall last year by the San Francisco 49ers, three years after his older brother, Joey Bosa, went third overall.


Young offers similarly imposing size, listed as 6 feet 5 and 265 pounds by Ohio State last season, with gifted athleticism and a quick burst at the line of scrimmage.


His first step allowed him to overwhelm quarterbacks in some of the Buckeyes’ biggest wins in 2019, tying a school record with four sacks against Wisconsin and tallying three against Penn State later in the season.


His 21 tackles behind the line of scrimmage were the fourth-most in a season in OSU history.


Prior to the Fiesta Bowl last week, Clemson offensive co-coordinator Tony Elliott compared Young to former South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who was the top pick in the NFL draft in 2014 and an imposing lineman when the rival schools met in the previous years.


"When we were preparing for him, he was very, very similar," Elliott said, "a young man that could dominate every play in the game."


A former five-star recruit, Young was long expected to be a standout at Ohio State and led the team with 9½ sacks as a sophomore despite being hobbled by a pair of sprained ankles that restricted mobility.


His elevated performance as a junior came following his recovery from the injuries.


As he swarmed opponents, Young secured his share of postseason hardware. He was a unanimous All-America selection, and also captured the Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy, two of the top honors given to the nation’s best defensive player.


But his recognition as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy most captured the scope of his on-field dominance.


It had been a decade since a defensive lineman attended the ceremony for college football’s most prestigious award, an honor largely reserved for the sport’s offensive stars.


Young finished fourth in the final voting as Louisiana State quarterback Joe Burrow won in a historic landslide.


The productive season for Young came despite a suspension for two games in November because of receiving a loan from a family friend that was determined to be in violation of NCAA rules.


He sat out games against Maryland and Rutgers as a result before returning for his three-sack performance against Penn State.


Tyler Friday and Zach Harrison, who started in place of Young in the games, will be among the candidates to replace him.


Young also saw a quieter stretch to end his college career.


During his final three games against archrival Michigan, Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game and Clemson in the playoff semifinal, he did not register a sack, totaling only 1½ tackles for loss and five hurries.


It was his longest stretch without a sack since his freshman season in 2017.


jkaufman@dispatch.com


@joeyrkaufman