The Heisman trophy is sculpted to show an offensive player stiff arming a defensive player. But why is that? The historical answer is that sculptor Frank Eliscu designed the statue in 1934 after New York University star Ed Smith. The next year, in 1935, the first-ever Heisman trophy went to the University of Chicago’s Jay Berwanger.
Berwanger became the first in a long list of offensive players who would go on to win the award, which brings back the question: Why depict an offensive player? It makes sense because the 83-year-old award has gone to an offensive player 82 times with the exception being Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson who won in 1997. And this season, another defensive player is showing why he deserves to be in the Heisman Trophy conversation.
“It’s hard to be as dominant on defense as it is on offense,” Ohio State Head Coach Ryan Day said. “If he [Chase Young] is not the most dominant player in college football right now, then he’s close.”
Ohio State defensive end Chase Young has 13.5 sacks, half a sack shy of tying the single-season school record set by Vernon Gholston in 2007. Keep in mind, the Buckeyes still have four games left in the regular season.
“I mean having a player like Chase play the way he has clearly changes the game and makes everyone on that defense better because you have to account for him on every play,” Day said.
Young is coming off his most dominating performance of the season. In Ohio State’s 38-7 win over Wisconsin, Young tallied four sacks, tying a school record for most sacks in a single game. He also forced two fumbles and totaled a career-best six solo tackles.
“I mean obviously going into the season you want to play the best, you want to break every record and I feel like right now I really just can’t be worried about a sack record,” Young said. “I’ve just got to keep on trying to perfect my craft and do what I do and those other things are going to come.”
According to the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, Young has the fifth-best chance to win the Heisman at 20/1 odds. The only players with better odds are all quarterbacks: No. 1 Joe Burrow (even), No. 2 Jalen Hurts (7/4), No. 3 Tua Tagovailoa (4/1) and No. 4 Justin Fields (10/1).
As mentioned above, Ohio State QB Justin Fields is in the conversation as well. The first-year starter at Ohio State has thrown for 1,659 yards, 24 touchdowns and just one interception with a passer rating of 185.2. Fields also has 319 yards rushing and nine touchdowns.
“I’m not really worried about that [the Heisman] right now,” Fields said. “I’m just worried about winning because if you lose one game, that goes out the window so I’m not really focused on individual accolades I’m just focused on the team and winning every game.”
Speaking of the Buckeyes’ rushing attack, running back J.K. Dobbins is just one spot behind Young for odds to win the Heisman at 40/1. Dobbins leads the Big Ten in rushing yards and ranks second in the country with 1,110 yards.
That means three of the top six favorites to win the Heisman Trophy play for Ohio State.
“I think when you’re at Ohio State this is what the norm should be,” Day said. “You come to Ohio State and you’re a tailback, you’re a quarterback I mean you should be in the Heisman Trophy conversation. Now for Chase that’s a different deal and he’s obviously a special player and hats off to him to even be brought up in something like this.”