What was no surprise to me or anyone, in fact, on Saturday night is that Alabama sophomore quarterback Bryce Young took the 2021 Heisman Trophy, making it back-to-back years for Alabama with now Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Devonta Smith taking it last year. Young has lived up to the massive hype coming into this season as a former five-star prospect out of California and signing a six-figure deal in name, image, and likeness, which became available to college athletes this year for the first time in NCAA history.
Young has exceeded the hype this season by opening up the season with a four touchdown performance over then No.14 Miami before going on the road to beat then No.11 Florida just two weeks later. He has shown composure and leadership despite playing behind a modest offensive line and has dazzled us with his ability to keep calm under pressure when the defense is coming after him and find open receivers downfield.
One example of his composure was when he led the Tide to a come -from-behind 24-22 overtime win at Auburn to close out the regular season after Alabama trailed 10-3 with 1:35 remaining in the fourth quarter with star receiver Jameson Williams sidelined after being ejected for targeting in the first half. At his own 3-yard line, Young galvanized his troops and led the team on a 12-play, 97-yard drive, which he capped off by throwing a score-tying, 28-yard touchdown pass to freshman wideout Ja’ Corey Brooks who had just two catches all season entering the game.
Young would later throw the two-point conversion to John Metchie III, keeping the Tide’s College Football Playoff hopes alive. Young also won the Maxwell Award, given to the best player in college football, and the Davey O'Brien Award, given to the nation's top quarterback.
At the end of the day, Young's Heisman credentials included an astounding 4,322 yards for 43 passing touchdowns to only four interceptions thrown all season, completing 314 of his 462 passes, good for a 68% completion rate and a 175.5 passer rating. He also is a reluctant, but gifted runner, rushing for three touchdowns as well throughout the season.
At the Heisman presentation Young stated, "Whenever you can win an award like this, it doesn't go as an individual award but it's a team award because I couldn't do it without any of those guys," referring to his Crimson Tide teammates. "I'd like to thank Coach Saban. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for your guidance and putting me in situations to be successful and for us as a team to be successful."
Young took the Heisman over guys such as Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud, Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett, and Michigan defensive lineman and Big Ten Defensive Player of The Year Aidan Hutchinson who finished second in the voting.
In winning the Heisman, Alabama became the sixth school to win the award in back-to-back seasons, making it four overall for the program with the other winners including running backs Derrick Henry and Mark Ingram II.