ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Crimson Tide photos / Alabama football coach Nick Saban and Crimson Tide sophomore quarterback Bryce Young share a laugh after last Saturday's 41-24 defeat of Georgia in the SEC championship game.

Alabama's quarterback history contains the legendary likes of Bart Starr, Joe Namath and Ken Stabler, as well as those who didn't leave an NFL legacy but were effective in college, such as Steadman Shealy, Jay Barker and AJ McCarron.

Three former Crimson Tide quarterbacks — Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones — led their respective Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots to victories on consecutive weekends last month, but none of the above ever won the Heisman Trophy.

Bryce Young has that opportunity Saturday night as the overwhelming favorite for college football's top individual award.

"It obviously would be a huge blessing to follow the great quarterbacks that we've had and to have this opportunity," Young said this week. "It's something I don't take for granted, but I also understand the reason behind it, and that's us as a unit and us as a team. It's not just me. It takes all of my teammates. It takes the coaches.

"It takes this environment and everybody involved to even have the opportunity to go after an accomplishment like this."

On Thursday afternoon, The Associated Press named Young its national player of the year after a landslide vote.

The 6-foot, 194-pound sophomore from Pasadena, California, will be joined at the Heisman ceremony in New York City by Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and quarterbacks Kenny Pickett of Pittsburgh and C.J. Stroud of Ohio State. Young is the lone quarterback among the finalists who has guided his team to the College Football Playoff, having completed 314 of 462 passes (68.0%) for 4,322 yards with 43 touchdowns and only four interceptions.

Young's 43 touchdown tosses lead all Power Five quarterbacks, and he is coming off last Saturday's stellar showing in the Southeastern Conference championship game, when he threw for 421 yards and three touchdowns and had three carries for 40 yards and a score during the 41-24 stunning of Georgia.

"He has everything of every quarterback we see," Alabama sophomore outside linebacker and Nagurski Award winner Will Anderson said. "He can run. He can pass. He can extend plays, so in practice, we're going to see every kind of QB that there is — a running quarterback, a passing quarterback, everything. He fakes you out. He makes you jump when you're not supposed to.

"That drive in the Auburn game is one of the most historical things I've ever seen before. The way he kept his composure was great."

Ah, the Auburn game.

Young entered Jordan-Hare Stadium on Nov. 27 as the Heisman favorite, but his candidacy teetered significantly when the Tigers grabbed a 10-0 lead through three quarters. Alabama trailed 10-3 with 1:35 remaining in regulation and the ball at its 3-yard line, but Young would take his controlled demeanor to a new level by calmly covering those 97 yards in 12 plays and tying the game on a 28-yard touchdown pass to Ja'Corey Brooks with 24 seconds to spare.

"I think it comes through experience," Young said of his ability to stay cool. "When you start playing athletics, you have to feel everything out and feel your process out. For me, I've kind of realized just how I operate the best and function the best, and that's from a more calm state of mind, so for me it's just being in that mindset as much as I can to maximize my efficiency and do what's best for the team. It comes through reps, and it comes through experience.

"Truthfully, it really comes through faith, because I'm really not in control of what happens or what the outcomes are. I'm a vessel and a tool that's being used. Everything has already been written and determined, and I have complete trust and faith in how everything is going to unfold. That clarity takes any tenseness out for me."

When Alabama junior receiver Jameson Williams was asked this week about the memorable drive at Auburn, he said, "Bryce had a smile on his face. I've never seen him rattled or intimidated by anything."

No Crimson Tide player ever had won the Heisman until running back Mark Ingram in 2009. Running back Derrick Henry became the second in 2015, with receiver DeVonta Smith earning the program's third Heisman a year ago.

If Young wins, Alabama would have more recipients than any other SEC program, with the Tide, Auburn (Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson and Cam Newton) and Florida (Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow) currently sharing that mark at three. Young is looking forward to the trip and visiting with the other finalists, and he could successfully cap a week that began with him being named a permanent team captain.

"Not a lot of people have that honor, and it's something I don't take lightly at all," he said. "From that to come from my teammates makes it exponentially sweeter."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT