Chase Young tried to block out all of the speculation ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft.
But at times, it was hard to ignore. Nearly everyone was projecting him to go the Redskins, his hometown team, with the No. 2 overall selection. A Maryland native, he grew up watching the Redskins and admiring players like Sean Taylor and London Fletcher. He played high school football at Dematha Catholic -- about a 15-minute drive from FedExField.
"It would mean a lot [to play for the Redskins]," Young said at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. "Everybody who's known me since I was little could come to a game."
Young remained cautiously optimistic until Thursday night, when, surrounded by friends and family, he received a phone call from Washington head coach Ron Rivera. "He basically told me that he was going to me a Redskin."
Young was coming home.
"I've been working my whole life for that moment, for that call on the phone," Young said. "Just to be here right now, it's crazy. I'm definitely very grateful for this opportunity and just ready to get to work."
Young always thought he could become a high NFL Draft pick, and he emphatically cemented his place near the top of draft boards following a record-breaking season at Ohio State. And while quarterback Joe Burrow went No. 1 overall to the Cincinnati Bengals, Young still views himself as the best overall prospect in the 2020 class.
Rivera certainly agrees.
"We feel really good about it," Rivera said about drafting Young. "A lot of good football he played the past couple of years -- probably about as good as anybody I've seen -- and he's a guy that can come in and impact our football team, not just the position, not just the defense but our football team."
Young described himself as a coachable, fierce competitor who can get to the quarterback, and no one brought down opposing signal-callers more than Young did at Ohio State in 2019.
Using his speed, power and lightning quick first step, the 6-foot-5, 264-pound Young led all of college football with 16.5 sacks and six forced fumbles -- all while missing two games. First-team All-American honors followed, as did multiple individual awards. He's also one of nine defensive players since 1982 to be named as a Heisman Trophy finalist.
Young is not worried with the expectations associated with being the No. 2 overall pick. He's more focused on his preparation, doing whatever is necessary to ensure he makes a "pretty big impact" as soon as he steps onto the field.
Fortunately, he'll have some familiar faces to help him along the way. The Redskins drafted Young's college teammates -- quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. and wide receiver Terry McLaurin -- in the first and third rounds, respectively, of the 2019 NFL draft. Haskins is looked at as the future of the franchise, while McLaurin, after one of the best seasons by a rookie wideout in Redskins' history, is already one of the team's top players.
Young will lean on both players -- he said Haskins gave him the "inside scoop" a few days ago -- as well as the defensive linemen, four of whom are also former first-round picks.
"I feel like we're definitely going to have a great group," Young said. "I know those guys are already prepared to get after it. Me just coming in, I'm going to be a sponge and definitely just work my hardest to be a guy who can make an impact."
Young said the biggest improvement he made last season was becoming more detailed with his technique, but he also admitted there's plenty to work on. He wants his hands and first step to be faster. His hand placement can be better against the run and in the pass game.
Having landed with the Redskins, Young said the next step is to touch base with his teammates and coaches and start building those relationships. He will not be going to Redskins Park any time soon -- all club facilities remain closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic -- but he'll be able to take part in the team's virtual offseason program, which started April 20 and will run until mid-May. That's how he'll begin laying the groundwork for what many believe will be a illustrious NFL career.
Young does not feel like there's added pressure representing his hometown franchise. In fact, he's motivated by the opportunity to play in front of family, friends and all of the fellow locals who pack FedExField on Sundays each fall.
They grew up watching the burgundy and gold just like he did; now it's time to revitalize the franchise -- together.
"It's just time to go to work, just get back on my horse," Young said. "It's go time now."