Alabama football QB Bryce Young wins Heisman Trophy
NEW YORK — Despite all of Alabama football's success, from the teams of Paul "Bear" Bryant to Nick Saban, winning championships and producing NFL talent, no Crimson Tide quarterback had won the Heisman Trophy.
That changed Saturday.
Alabama sophomore quarterback Bryce Young won college football's most prestigious individual award Saturday at the Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. He edged out Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett, Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson and Ohio State's CJ Stroud.
"For me, I've always been someone labeled as not the prototype," Young said. "Being an African-American quarterback, being quote-unquote undersized and not being that prototype, I've always been ruled out and counted out. People a lot of times have told me that I wasn't going to be able to make it. For me, it's always been about not really proving them wrong but proving to myself what I can accomplish. I've always pushed myself to work the hardest. I tried my best to do all I can to maximize what I can do."
Young becomes the fourth Alabama player ever to win the Heisman in addition to DeVonta Smith (2020), Derrick Henry (2015) and Mark Ingram (2009). The Crimson Tide remains in the No. 5 spot all-time for most finalists behind Ohio State (7), Oklahoma (7), Notre Dame (7) and USC (6).
Other Crimson Tide quarterbacks have been top-three finalists such as Mac Jones (2020), Tua Tagovailoa (2018) and AJ McCarron (2013), but none has won it until now.
Among the thank you messages Young sent, he included Jesus Christ, his parents, teammates, offensive line, offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, high school coaches, and more.
He specifically thanked coach Nick Saban, too.
"Thank you for believing in me" Young said to Saban in the crowd. "Thank you for your guidance and putting me in situations to be successful and for us and the team to be successful. It really means a lot."
Young receives Alabama's second consecutive Heisman, which is only the fifth time in the history of the award that a school has won it in back to back years. The others are Yale (1936-37), Army (1945-46), Ohio State (1974-75) and Oklahoma (2017-18). USC would have had consecutive winners in 2004 and 2005 in Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush, but Bush's Heisman Trophy was revoked after he was later found to be ineligible for the 2005 season.
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As a sophomore winner, Young also joins rare company. He's only the fifth sophomore all-time to win the Heisman. The others are Tim Tebow (2007), Sam Bradford (Oklahoma), Ingram (2009) and Lamar Jackson (2016).
Wearing No. 9, Young is the second player ever to win the award with that number. Former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is the only other.
Young earned the Heisman having led Alabama to a 12-1 record and the No. 1 spot in the College Football Playoff. He put up an SEC Championship Game record for 421 passing yards as he also scored four touchdowns against then-No. 1 Georgia, which had given up only nine touchdowns all season before then.
Young's "Heisman moment" might have been the 97-yard, game-saving drive against Auburn in the Iron Bowl. With fewer than two minutes remaining, Young drove the Crimson Tide down the field and threw a touchdown to send the game to overtime. There, he led Alabama to a victory in the fourth overtime.
Young took time to thank O'Brien for his help with the season. O'Brien joined the Crimson Tide ahead of the 2021 season.
"He's had a lot of success in the past," Young said. "He could have came in and told me what to do and just said sit down and listen. He always included me in decisions and always talked to me about stuff. That means a lot to me as a quarterback and always gave me a lot of confidence."
This season, Young has passed for 4,322 yards with 43 touchdowns and four interceptions. Those 43 touchdowns already have tied Alabama's single season record, set by Tua Tagovailoa in 2018. And Young has at least one more game to go, against No. 4 Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 31.
In addition to the Heisman, Young also won AP national player of the year and the Maxwell Award for this season.
Contact Alabama reporter Nick Kelly: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly