Young gives Alabama back-to-back wins at Heisman – WSB 95.5


NEW YORK – (AP) – Bryce Young didn’t just reach the standard set by star quarterbacks who came before him in Alabama, he surpassed it and gave the Crimson Tide a rare back-to-back Heisman.

Young became Tide’s first quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, making Alabama the fifth school with consecutive winners of the most prestigious college football player of the year award.

“It’s amazing,” said Young, dressed in black with a sparkling diamond chain around his neck, as he began his acceptance speech.

He thanked his father, Craig, for being his “best friend”, his mother, Julie, for “always supporting me” and his offensive line for “protecting me”.

Young received 684 votes for first place and 2,311 points to easily outrun Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (78, 954), who became the third defensive player to be Heisman finalist and first since Notre linebacker. Dame Manti Te’o in 2012.

Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett (28, 631) was third and Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud (12, 399) was fourth. Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31, 325) was fifth, placing two defensive players in the top five for the first time since 1962.

A year after his former teammate DeVonta Smith won the Heisman, Young received 83% of the total available points, the seventh highest among 87 winners. He was named on 90% of all ballots, also the seventh highest in Heisman history.

Young has had 4,322 yards and 43 touchdowns this season, leading the No.1 Alabama to a Southeastern Conference title and a place in the college football playoffs. Reigning National Champion Crimson Tide will face No.4 Cincinnati on December 31 at the Cotton Bowl.

Young is the fourth winner for Heisman in Alabama, all in the past 13 years under coach Nick Saban. Only four schools won more: Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Southern California each won seven.

Other schools to have won Heisman Awards in consecutive years are Yale (1936-37), Army (1945-46), Southern California (2004-05) – although Reggie Bush’s victory in 2005 was overturned by the sequel – and Oklahoma (2017-18).

Running backs Mark Ingram (2009) and Derrick Henry (2015) were Heisman’s first two winners in Alabama and Smith, a wide receiver, was No.3 last year.

It only seemed like a matter of time before a Tide quarterback won one at home. The Saban dynasty in Alabama became QB U.

Young, a sophomore, stepped into the starting role played by Mac Jones last year and Tua Tagovailoa the previous two seasons. Both start in the NFL after being selected in the first round of the draft.

“It was important for me to understand the tradition of the quarterback and the norm that was to be a quarterback at the University of Alabama,” said Young. “It was important for me to live up to that, to meet that standard.”

Tagovailoa was Heisman’s finalist against Kyler Murray of Oklahoma in 2018, then finished 10th in votes in 2019, a season cut short by injury.

Jones got even better numbers than Tagovailoa in 2020, but settled for third place in the Heisman vote behind his favorite receiver, Smith, and Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

Then came Young, the five-star rookie from Southern California, who was Jones’ lightly used replacement last year.

Leading an inexperienced attacker that replaced a mountain of NFL talent, Young didn’t afford the luxury of growing up in the job.

“A lot of the other teams we’ve had were older, with a lot of really good players and the quarterback didn’t need to be the focal point Bryce needed to be on this team this year,” said Saban.

Young immediately showed he was up to the task. He threw for 344 yards and four touchdowns on his debut against Miami to start the season, but it’s how he finished that got him the Heisman.

The race mainly seemed to be won before November. Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker, who finished sixth, Stroud and even Young’s teammate Anderson, all briefly rose to the top of the rankings.

Young led Alabama on a game-equalizing 97-yard touchdown in an overtime victory over Auburn over Thanksgiving weekend, winning what was overall one of their poorest games of the season to deliver when it mattered most.

“In a way you could tell I was more nervous today (than before training against Auburn) because a lot of it is out of your control,” he said.

Balanced confidence might be Young’s strongest trait.

“It’s always been there,” said her father, Craig Young, earlier this week. “It’s just the ability to stay calm in chaos and not perceive it as chaos.”

Bryce Young followed that clutch performance in the Iron Bowl with a masterpiece from start to finish. Young had an SEC championship game record 421 yards and the Crimson Tide tore Georgia’s much-vaunted defense in a 41-24 victory.

“He was fantastic all the way down the home stretch,” said Saban.

The Heisman run went from wide open to a done deal as Young helped Alabama take it to the next level with the best season ever for the Tide quarterback.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo on https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen on http://www.appodcasts.com

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