Bryce Young Wins The 2021 Heismanby Alex Kielar December 12, 2021 1 comment
On Saturday night from Jazz at Lincoln Center on Broadway, Bryce Young was announced as the 87th Heisman winner in college football history. After DeVonta Smith took home the trophy last year, Alabama became the sixth school ever to have back-to-back Heisman winners. Alabama joins Yale, Army, USC, Oklahoma, and Ohio State as the only schools to have back-to-back winners. Ohio State, of course, had the only player to win back-to-back Heisman Trophies in running back Archie Griffin (1974-75).
The journey started when Young entered Alabama’s game against Kentucky last season. On a scramble out of the pocket, he found Smith in the middle of the field between two defenders for his first career touchdown pass. Smith sent a heartfelt message to Young about the privilege it is for Young to win the Heisman, which was shown after the announcement.
DeVonta Smith’s message to Bryce Young after joining him in the HEISMAN CLUB 🤩
— Overtime (@overtime) December 12, 2021
“Yeah, it’s amazing,” Young said of now sharing the honor with Smith. “Smitty definitely taught me a lot last year, seeing how he operated and getting to see how he worked. For him to win this award last year, was huge and very inspiring. Now for me to be able to win it this year, that’s something I don’t take for granted at all. Also hearing that message he gave at the end of the ceremony, that was surreal to have a moment like that.”
— Alex Kielar (@AlexKielar) December 12, 2021
Running Away from the Competition
Young was the runaway winner as he received 684 first-place votes. Aidan Hutchinson came in second (78 first-place votes), followed by Kenny Pickett in third and C.J. Stroud in fourth. Young was named on 90.09 percent of the total votes, which is the seventh-highest total in history. He surpassed Johnny Manziel, who received 89.33 percent of the vote in 2012.
The rest of the top ten was Will Anderson, Kenneth Walker III, Matt Corral, Desmond Ridder, Jordan Davis, and Breece Hall. It is the first time since 2017 that a team had two top-ten finishers. That year Oklahoma had Baker Mayfield and Dede Westbrook finish third and fourth in the voting, respectively. Young is the first Crimson Tide quarterback to ever win the Heisman Trophy after the school had finalists at the position in 2013, 2018, and 2020.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban talked about his team’s philosophy over the years, which has led to several Heisman finalists and now a winner at the quarterback position. Despite his very, very cool demeanor, the greatest college coach of all time showed a lot of pride by the way his program has developed quarterbacks since he took over in 2007.
“Well, I’m really pleased with the last four guys that we’ve had,” Saban said. “I know several of them have been finalists. I think it speaks volumes of what our coaching staff has been able to do with the quarterback position. Philosophically we made a huge change probably somewhere seven or eight years ago to be a more wide-open spread type team, which makes you a more quarterback-oriented team. So all these young men have had tremendous success and it enhanced their development.”
Young is just the fifth sophomore ever to win the Heisman Trophy. He has a lot of people to thank for accomplishing this feat. None bigger than his dad, who he mentioned as his biggest inspiration to love football. There are also a number of people that the California native had to thank for his journey here.
“I’d definitely say my dad [is my biggest inspiriation],” Young said. “He had played and then he was always — obviously always a big football fan. We were always watching games and watching football together. He was always super passionate about it, and he was always super supportive. Yeah, I’d definitely say my dad is my biggest inspiration.”
“I mean, there’s a tremendous amount of people that go into an award like this,” Young said later. “Something like this is such a blessing, and as it’s presented to one individual, it takes a countless amount of people in order to accomplish something like this. I’m extremely grateful for all the people that made the trip out with me, all the people at Alabama that facilitated this and made this possible, for the fans that have supported me and the entire team through thick and thin, [and] for everyone who’s been involved.
When it comes down to it, the likely first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft deserves every bit of the great honor he has received. He faced numerous hurdles along the way, including the loss to Texas A&M and having his back to the goal line against Auburn in the Iron Bowl. But he came through and stepped up in big moments. With 97 yards of green grass in front of him, Young led the Alabama offense to a game-winning touchdown against Auburn in just over a minute. In the process, he also converted a huge 4th and 7. He then went and broke the SEC Championship record of passing yards with 421 big ones against the top defense in the country in the Georgia Bulldogs. Those were his Heisman moments on the season and made him the obvious choice.
“Bryce certainly was fantastic for us this year,” Saban stated. “I’m so pleased, happy, and proud that he was actually honored and recognized for that.”
Back to Business
Despite winning the illustrious Heisman Trophy, Young has much more on his mind. With the win over Georgia, Alabama has a spot in The College Football Playoff and will face off against Ridder and Cincinnati in the semifinal. It is now back to business for the quarterback and his team, as they try to return to glory. For most athletes, winning the whole thing is always the ultimate goal, and individual awards and accomplishments are secondary. That is certainly true for Young, who took in the moment but still couldn’t help but look ahead to New Year’s Eve.
“This is a huge honor, a huge blessing,” Young said. “This is something that’s surreal to accomplish and I’ll remember for the rest of my life. But at the end of the day, this wasn’t the goal, and the goal is not completed yet. For us it’s just giving it our all for — we have really a one-game season. We have to do everything we can do to prepare. We have to work harder than we have before. It’s going to take everything for us to be successful in this next game, and that’s what we need to do.”
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Main Image Credit: ©The Heisman Trophy Trust