Why I voted Alabama football's Bryce Young for Heisman Trophy | Kelly

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

NEW YORK — After the Georgia game, Bryce Young had to receive my Heisman Trophy vote. 

Not just because of what transpired in the SEC Championship Game. Although, he looked worthy of the Heisman based on how he played. The reason that game pushed my vote over the edge is that Young had a signature game like no one else had added to a resume already strong enough to win him the award. 

No matter what way I looked at it, Young stood above the rest. He's got an impressive overall body of work, he's got his Heisman moment from the Iron Bowl and he's got his signature game. 

For all of those elements, Young earned my top vote. Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett and Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. also received spots in my top three. 

BRYCE YOUNG:Alabama QB Bryce Young already had Heisman Trophy moment. Now he's had a Heisman game.

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Let's start with Young's overall year. He served as the quarterback on an Alabama (12-1) team that relied on the passing game offensively and is the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff. Playing in the SEC, where 13 of 14 teams were bowl-eligible, Alabama has wins over two teams ranked in the top 25 of the final CFP rankings in No. 8 Ole Miss and No. 21 Arkansas. 

Wins don't have a direct correlation to a quarterback or any player's success, but if Young doesn't play in these games, Alabama likely doesn't beat Arkansas; and the Ole Miss game would have been tough, too. 

Young's individual stats are also among the nation's best. He's second in touchdowns, fourth in passing yards and is tied for the fewest interceptions with four. Pickett has seven and Stroud has five. 

Speaking of interceptions, Young didn't throw one for more than a month. He had one against Texas A&M on Oct. 9 and didn't throw another until Nov. 27 in the Iron Bowl. 

In that Iron Bowl, Young put together the highlight of his season. 

He had to drive 97 yards with fewer than two minutes to go for Alabama to force the game against Auburn to go to overtime. And he did. 

With that improbably impeccable drive, my vote started to lean toward Young. Then, he added that signature game. 

No team could consistently score on Georgia this season. Few teams even moved the ball much. There was talk about this Bulldogs defense being one of the best ever. 

Then Young dominated. 

Georgia had allowed nine touchdowns all season through 12 games. Young finished with four, three through the air and one on the ground. 

Georgia had given up only 6.92 points per game before that game. Young helped Alabama score 41 points, also assisted by a Jordan Battle pick-six. 

If the Georgia game and drive against Auburn weren't impressive enough, Young put together a spectacular performance against Arkansas. He threw for 559 yards and put up 42 points against the Razorbacks. As a result, Young also grabbed the Alabama record for passing yards from a quarterback in a single game, previously held by Scott Hunter (484) in 1969.

Other players had compelling cases for the Heisman. Young's own teammate, Anderson, certainly did. 

Anderson served as a nearly unblockable force on the edge of Alabama's defense all season. He has 32.5 tackles for loss, best in the nation. He basically lived in opponents' backfields. Anderson is also first in FBS with 15.5 sacks. He also has tallied 92 tackles over his 13 games. 

Anderson earned my vote over Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson in the top three because of Anderson's ridiculous numbers in the SEC. Hutchinson also put together a great season for the No. 2 Wolverines, but his numbers weren't as impressive as Anderson's. Hutchinson has 13.5 sacks, 55 tackles and 15 tackles for loss over 12 games. 

Pickett also received a spot in my top three because he was the catalyst on a surprising No. 12 Pittsburgh team. He had one fewer touchdown and three fewer yards than Young and helped Pitt (11-2) win the ACC, defeating No. 16 Wake Forest convincingly, 45-21. 

Young, however, rose to the top of the candidates. 

After a season already filled with impressive moments, Young walked right over Georgia's unbeatable defense. 

He deserved to keep walking right up to the stage to accept the Heisman Trophy. 

Contact Alabama reporter Nick Kelly: Follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly