The last time he changed teams, from DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, Md., to Ohio State, Chase Young made an indelible impression on his recruiter.
“We talked on the phone probably more than anyone I’ve ever recruited,” said Larry Johnson Sr., the Buckeyes’ defensive line and associate head coach. “Sometimes at 10 at night he would text me, ‘If you’re up, can I call you?’”
They talked about the intricacies of defense, Johnson’s coaching style and players he had helped become stars, like Tamba Hali and the Bosa brothers, Nick and Joey. Young wanted to know anything he could to become a special player.
“Coach,” he would ask, “do you think I have it?”
The answer soon became obvious. Young — a 6-foot-5, 264-pound junior defensive end — led the F.B.S. in sacks with 16.5 last season and might be the best overall player in the N.F.L. draft. That is his opinion, for the record.
“I definitely think I’m the best player in the draft,” Young said at the N.F.L. scouting combine in February. “I think I showed it on my tape.”
Young intensely studied those tapes with Johnson, who challenged himself to find flaws in Young’s technique. He would break down film in slow motion, scrutinizing Young’s hand placement, the drive of his inside foot toward the quarterback, the positioning of his chest relative to his thigh as he lined up.
If Johnson could tighten up Young just an inch or two, here or there, he could help a star player become elite. And the more improvement Young saw in himself, the more he bought in, shedding his high school moves for the more intricate, sophisticated approaches that would make him a force at Ohio State.
That ability to adapt and learn, Johnson said, should make Young a high-impact player immediately in the N.F.L., perhaps with Young’s hometown Washington Redskins, who hold the No. 2 pick behind the Cincinnati Bengals.
“We talked yesterday about a team that had called him, and just listening to him talk, you can tell the maturity’s really at a high level,” Johnson said recently. “He gets it, he understands it, and he understands coaching, which is really cool. I said, ‘I’m proud of you.’ He said, ‘I love you, man,’ and I said, ‘I love you back.’ He’s so genuine. He can’t thank me enough, but he doesn’t realize I thank him just as much.”