Ohio State’s Chase Young wins Chuck Bednarik Award as college football’s top defensive player

Bill Rabinowitz
brabinow@dispatch.com
Defensive end Chase Young (2) is the first Ohio State player to win the Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation’s best defensive player. [Joshua A. Bickel/Dispatch]

Chase Young won the Chuck Bednarik Award on Thursday given to college football’s top defensive player.

The junior defensive end, who’s a Heisman Trophy finalist, was chosen over tackle Derrick Brown of Auburn and linebacker Isaiah Simmons of Clemson at the College Football Awards show in Atlanta.

Young is the first Buckeye to win the Bednarik Award.

Despite missing two games because of a suspension related to an improper loan, Young has 21 tackles for loss this season, including 16½ sacks. He also has six forced fumbles and three pass breakups, as well as a blocked kick.

Young was the headliner on a Buckeyes defense that made a dramatic improvement from last year’s mistake-plagued unit.

“I could go on for hours about Chase,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said last week. “It's been quite a year. Just the leadership and the way that he's approached this season, the way he is in the locker room pushing guys, this is a special young man. His character showed throughout the season, but on the field he's been completely dominant.”

Young was the only Buckeyes winner at the College Football Awards show.

Cornerback Jeff Okudah was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award given to the country’s top defensive back, but LSU’s Grant Delpit won it.

A week ago, Ohio State secondary coach and defensive co-coordinator Jeff Hafley said Okudah deserved to win the Thorpe.

“I believe Jeff Okudah is the best corner in the country,” Hafley said. “Jeff is as talented as any corner I've been around. I'm not taking (anything) away from the other corners. Maybe he doesn't have the production because no one's really throwing the ball (his way), but when they do, they're not catching it. And he's taking guys out of the game.”

In the voting for the Doak Walker Award, given to the top running back, Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins was one of the three finalists but lost to Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor. The Badgers junior, who ran for 1,909 yards and 21 touchdowns, was named the Big Ten running back of the year last week over Dobbins. The Buckeyes junior ran for 1,829 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Dobbins’ statistics were hurt because he got few carries in the second half of games for most of the season as he yielded to backups in Ohio State’s blowout victories.

After Dobbins didn’t win the Big Ten running back award, Day sympathized with Dobbins.

“I'm not speaking for J.K. — you have to ask him — but I know if it was me I'd ask, ‘What else do I need to do?’ ” Day said. “I think he deserves to be considered the best running back in the country. That hasn't really necessarily been the case. I know that bothers him. I know he runs with a chip on his shoulder because of that.”

LSU (and former Ohio State) quarterback Joe Burrow beat out Young for the Maxwell Award given to the college player of the year and Justin Fields for the Davey O’Brien Award for best quarterback in what is likely a precursor to Saturday’s Heisman Trophy voting in which Burrow is the heavy favorite.

The Walter Camp All-America team was also announced Thursday night. Young and Okudah were first-team selections. Dobbins, Fields and guard Wyatt Davis were second-team picks. The Buckeyes’ five picks were the most of any team.

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

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Chuck Bednarik (top defensive player): Chase Young, Ohio State

Walter Camp (player of year): Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

Maxwell (player of year): Burrow

Davey O’Brien (best quarterback): Burrow

Coach of the year: Ed Orgeron, LSU

Doak Walker (top running back): Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

Outland (best interior lineman): Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

Thorpe (best defensive back): Grant Delpit, LSU

Rimington (best center): Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin

Biletnikoff (best receiver): Ja’Marr Chase, LSU

Groza (best kicker): Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia

Ray Guy (best punter): Max Duffy, Kentucky

Burlsworth (top former walk-on): Kenny Willekes, Michigan State

Disney Spirit (most inspirational): Casey O’Brien, Minnesota

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College football award winners