More than 40 college football coaching staffs have extended a scholarship offer to dominant Maryland defensive prospect Chase Young, and he believes it's time to focus on favorites.
The DeMatha Catholic (Maryland) junior took a significant step in that process April 5 when he announced a top-15 list featuring several of America's premier programs:
Less than two weeks later, while speaking with Bleacher Report at The Opening's Washington, D.C., regional camp, Young expressed plans to pare things down further this summer. He aims to settle on seven top schools, and he'll utilize upcoming visits to help prepare him for the process.
"They're going to be places where there is a strong relationship between coaches and players, where I fit the scheme and schools that help guarantee you a job after college," Young said.
Rated No. 4 nationally among weak-side defensive ends and No. 52 overall in 247Sports' composite rankings, he is considered one of the Mid-Atlantic's premier players and perhaps the nation's most menacing pass-rusher.
Young erupted for 19 sacks last season, according to Brandon Parker of the Washington Post, and recorded 27 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He formed a feared defensive duo with Penn State signee Shane Simmons, who secured 16 sacks of his own and was considered Maryland's No. 1 overall 2016 recruit.
"I think we were the best bookends in the nation," Young said. "We balled out."
Simmons moves on to Saturday games in Happy Valley this fall, leaving his former teammate with an expanded bull's-eye on his back. Young, who admits much of that junior-season production resulted from sheer athleticism, has embraced the challenge by elevating his focus.
"I'm going to take things way, way more seriously than I did last year," he said. "I need to study the film more than ever before, break down the offensive tackle I'm going against and make calls for my teammates on the field. This is my defense, and I have to lead it."
Young, who stands 6'5", 220 pounds, figures to fill a variety of roles at DeMatha as a senior. His length, quickness and a physical frame that leaves room for substantial growth continue to inspire intrigue in college recruiting offices across America.
Some programs are targeting Young purely as a defensive end. Others envision him at outside linebacker, while plenty believe he can capably fill a hybrid role that incorporates elements from both positions.
"I can play whatever a coach wants me to," Young said. "If they want me to stand up, I can definitely stand up. If they want my hand in the ground or want me to drop back, I can do that, too."
Alabama and Maryland, a pair of primary contenders in this pursuit, see him taking snaps predominately in a stand-up role. The Terrapins particularly point to "Buck" linebacker duties, which challenges a defender to patrol the perimeter and provide containment off the edge.
Spearheaded by first-year head coach D.J. Durkin, a new Maryland regime continues to make its presence known in his recruitment. The former Michigan defensive coordinator is attempting to seal off state borders, and few local targets compare to Young this cycle in terms of importance.
"They're coming after me very hard," Young said. "The new staff is exciting, and I like Coach Durkin. The camaraderie and chemistry with the coaches is just unreal. Coach Durkin leads the way. If he can turn Maryland into a top-10 defense like he did at Michigan, I think they can really be a contender."
Alabama head coach Nick Saban has left little room for doubt about his defense during a wildly successful tenure in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide have stockpiled versatile edge defenders carrying a physical makeup similar to Young, who will soon take a closer look at Saban's squad.
"I like Alabama a lot, and that's going to be my next visit," he said. "I'm excited to get down there and see Coach Saban and [linebackers coach Tosh] Lupoi. That's definitely something I look forward to."
Young hasn't yet set a date for his trip to Tuscaloosa, but it figures to be one of a few campus trips he'll take in the coming months. He identified Florida, Michigan and USC as other intended destinations before this fall.
Along with this group, Young also specifically pointed to Florida State and Ohio State as serious suitors in the process. Eventually, these visits and interests will result in a top-seven list, which he'll likely unveil sometime this summer.
There may not be much time between the public release of those favorites and a verbal pledge.
"I want to commit before the season so I can get it off my chest and just play, but things might change," Young said.
Another element to monitor moving forward is Young's close relationship with DeMatha Catholic teammate Anthony McFarland Jr., who's rated No. 3 nationally among all-purpose backs. They share several common interests, including Alabama, Florida and Maryland.
McFarland told Bleacher Report he doesn't expect to commit until national signing day. If Young does indeed announce collegiate intentions months in advance, it could provide a program with extra pull in the recruitment of his talented teammate.
"I think [playing together is] a very realistic possibility," Young said. "That's my close friend; that's my brother. If we go to the same college, we'll turn up together."
There's plenty to consider before they reach that point, and both standouts are surely approaching their respective college searches from a unique perspective. Young places plenty of stock in how a university can fulfill his specific educational needs.
He plans to major in criminology with the goal of someday becoming a member of the FBI. This ambition follows the footsteps of his father, who carved out a career in criminal justice.
If Young's projected football skills pan out, the FBI may need to wait until a lengthy playing career concludes. On Sunday, he punched his ticket to The Opening national finals, which is the elite invite-only showcase held in July at Nike's world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.
Johnny Jordan, a highly recruited offensive lineman from Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C., crossed paths with Young during Sunday's regional action. The two also battled on practically every snap last season when their respective squads met.
He did well summing up the sentiments swirling around Young and provided further indication of why so many college programs covet the dynamic defender.
"You're dealing with a dude who has long arms, gets his hands on you and extends," Jordan said. "It's really hard to get your hands back on him after that. His quickness also makes things very difficult. Plus, he's powerful. He may look kind of skinny, but he's a strong guy."