Chauncey Golston shows his value as Iowa's 'other' defensive end
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa’s “other” defensive end has 23 tackles and a pair of fumble recoveries this season.
Chauncey Golston isn’t a starter like Parker Hesse and Anthony Nelson. He’s not a five-star recruit like A.J. Epenesa.
But the sophomore from Detroit has been just as impactful in his first chance to get meaningful playing time. And the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Golston certainly doesn’t feel like he’s in anyone’s shadow.
“I feel like all of us make one team; no piece is better than the sum of the parts,” Golston said of the Hawkeyes’ standout quartet of defensive ends. “So you just do your part and we’ll get better as a team.”
Iowa (6-3, 3-3 Big Ten Conference) ranks 14th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 18.6 points per game, heading into a 2:30 p.m. Saturday showdown with Northwestern (5-4, 5-1) at Kinnick Stadium. The line has been the strength of that defense. The ends, who all get a chance to play on passing downs, have been particularly productive.
Epenesa’s nine tackles for loss, seven sacks and six quarterback hurries all lead the team. Hesse has 39 tackles, eight of them behind the line of scrimmage. Nelson has 6.5 sacks and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Then there’s Golston, with six tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in an eye-opening season that has him positioned well to be a team leader after Hesse graduates (Nelson, a redshirt junior, could also leave for the NFL).
“Any good player is coachable,” Golston said when asked about his best attribute.
What has he learned from defensive line coach Reese Morgan this season?
“Tempo,” Golston said. “When I got the fumble recoveries, you can’t get that if you’re not running to the ball. … You’ve got to be giving constant 100 percent effort.”
Golston arrived at Iowa two years ago with his friend Cedrick Lattimore. They were teammates at East English Valley Prep School who visited Iowa City together, liked what they saw, and decided to become Hawkeyes together. Lattimore is a backup defensive tackle.
“When Ced is going, he’s going — his engine, oh my God; he’s an explosive guy when he’s doing it,” Golston said of Lattimore, who has 13 tackles and one sack this season.
Lattimore played right away at Iowa, but Golston came in at 224 pounds and needed a year to bulk up while learning better time-management skills, he said.
Last year, Golston played sparingly and recorded two tackles.
This spring, he was moved to defensive tackle for a time when the Hawkeyes were thin there.
“I got to play. Who wouldn’t want to play this game?” he said of his eagerness to make that switch.
But his future seems to be at end, where his length and speed are a decided advantage.
“Every camp, bowl prep, spring ball — every single time it’s a step forward, where he’s better,” Hesse said of Golston.
“Just look at him — he’s super long; that gets him in a lot of good positions. And he’s active — he’s moving his feet; he’s running to the ball. That's probably the most important quality a defensive player can have.”
Golston sees Hesse as a mentor. He sits by the senior in team meeting rooms and notices the way Hesse is always taking notes.
“When it’s my turn to take control of the defensive line, I want to lead like how he’s leading us,” Golston said.
For now, Golston is happy for the moments when he gets to line up side-by-side with Hesse as the two tackles in the Hawkeyes’ pass-rush unit. Epenesa and Nelson are the ends in that alignment. It’s just a race to see who can get the sack. The group has combined for 16 of them.
“In that package, we bring in four defensive ends, and we’re expecting us to hit home,” Golston said, obviously relishing those chances.
"We're four fast guys, and we’re just trying to get to the quarterback."