Who is the B1G's Defensive Player of the Decade?
The B1G had a heck of a decade.
Not only did Ohio State win a national championship, Chase Young won the Bednarik Award (essentially a defensive Heisman) and the league produced 27 first-round picks on defense — or 2.7 per draft during the 2010s.
Who stands out as the best of the best?
Selecting a Defensive Player of the Decade is something we’ve been discussing this offseason.
Ryan O’Gara, Saturday Tradition columnist
I truly believe that in a different year, Ohio State’s Chase Young could have won the Heisman (like 2009 or 2015 when the top 2 were running backs). He got the break he needed when Tua Tagovailoa got hurt, but Joe Burrow’s historic season made it a no-brainer. Young finished 4th in the voting (highest for a defensive player since Manti Te’o finished 2nd in 2012), but he did receive the 2nd-most 1st-place votes. It speaks to how dominant Young was in 2019. In fact, Pro Football Focus says Young had by far its highest season grade for an edge rusher.
Young was far from a 1-year wonder. He had 30.5 career sacks — just 2.5 fewer than Von Miller while playing 11 fewer games. It’s hard to quantify Young’s value, though, because it goes so much beyond the sacks. On any given play, he occupied 2 or 3 offensive players, opened lanes for teammates and hurried the quarterback into poor throws.
There’s a reason many called Young the best player in the 2020 NFL Draft. His production and impact were unmatched, and that’s why he’s the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Decade.
Connor O’Gara, Senior national columnist
This really came down to Chase Young vs. Joey Bosa for me. Both were dominant, take-over-the-game defensive ends for Ohio State. As great as Young was in 2019, I’ll give Bosa the slight edge.
Before you tell me about how his numbers dipped in 2015, remember that the guy was taking on triple teams as the top returning defensive player in America. How did he earn that title? By being the best defensive player on an Ohio State team that won a national championship. That’s a feat on Bosa’s résumé that no other player in the conference, including Young, can touch. A season with 21.5 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles is absurd. Bosa was indeed better than peak-J.J. Watt, who also spent 1 fewer year in the B1G.
Let’s never forget the time when Penn State, facing an all-or-nothing 4th-and-6 in overtime, attempted to block Bosa with … a running back.
.@jbbigbear = MONSTER ¯_(ツ)_/¯
What are your memories from this game-winning sack? 😤 #GoBucks
The shot The play pic.twitter.com/jJx2SgvF5X
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) March 23, 2020
Has a bigger coaching mistake ever been made? Bosa showed the college football world just how much of a force he was that night (and most nights after that).
You could argue that Young’s peak was a touch better than Bosa’s, but I still come back to what Bosa did in 3 years. Even as a freshman, he was all but impossible to slow down with single blockers. If we’re talking about a player of the decade, the entire career has to be taken into account.
Dustin Schutte, Saturday Tradition managing editor
Maybe there’s some recency bias here, but it’s difficult to remember a more dominant player on the defensive side of the football than Chase Young. He missed 2 regular-season games in his final year at Ohio State and still led the B1G in sacks (16.5) and was named a Heisman Trophy finalist. He piled up 21 tackles for loss, forced 6 fumbles, broke up 3 passes and blocked a kick.
There was a reason FOX Sports analyst Joel Klatt always labeled Young as a “game-wrecker.”
Ohio State has been known to produce outstanding defensive ends, especially under the direction of defensive line coach Larry Johnson. The Bosa brothers, Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis were all excellent, but Young was the best of the bunch. Not only was he incredibly athletic, his 6-5, 265-pound frame was intimidating. There were times when offensive lines would use 2 or 3 blockers just to keep the defensive end out of the play.
Even when Young wasn’t productive, he was productive. When offenses shifted their focus in an attempt to neutralize Young, it opened opportunities for other defenders. Only the truly great ones have the ability to influence a game when they’re not putting up numbers in the stat sheet.
Chris Wright, Saturday Tradition executive editor
There’s no need to overthink this. Joey Bosa and Young were outstanding and deserving and clearly separated themselves from the rest of the B1G contenders.
Bosa is my pick because he laid the foundation for Urban Meyer. He helped take down Alabama and the mighty SEC. He anchored the national championship team. He led the B1G in tackles for loss this decade. Nobody in the top 10 played fewer games, and 6 in the top 10 played at least 5 more games.
Give Young a ton of credit, too. He maintained what Bosa started (and led the B1G in sacks for the decade in even fewer games than Bosa).
But it’s easier to maintain than build. How close were these 2?
Had Young preceded Bosa, I would have given him the nod.