NEW YORK — Alabama sophomore quarterback Bryce Young became the school’s first quarterback and its second straight player to win the Heisman Memorial Trophy as college football’s most outstanding player on Saturday, easily outpacing the three other finalists in attendance at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Last year, Crimson Tide wide receiver DeVonta Smith won the Heisman. The presentation was held in January — and virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic — but quarterbacks have now won 18 of the last 21 Heismans.
Young thanked his offensive linemen, receivers and defense during his acceptance speech, noting there were many distractors along the way to success because of his size. He is listed at 6 feet and 195 pounds.
“Whenever you can win an award like this, it goes as an individual award, but it’s a team award. Because I couldn’t do it without any of those guys,” Young said. “It was big for me understanding the quarterback tradition and the standard that was being a quarterback at the University of Alabama. It was important for me to live up to that, to meet that standard.”
In a video tribute to Young, played after the winner was announced, Smith said: “I remember your first touchdown ever against Kentucky, Bryce. Little did they know it was just one Heisman throwing the ball to another Heisman.”
Young added to his awards haul, having already won the AP College Football Player of the Year, Davey O’Brien and Maxwell trophies. He collected 684 first-place votes and 2,311 total points in becoming the fifth sophomore to win the Heisman.
Michigan senior defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, who was seeking to become the first defensive player to win the award since Charles Woodson in 1997, finished second with Pittsburgh senior quarterback Kenny Pickett and Ohio State freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud rounding out the top four. Alabama linebacker Will Anderson was fifth in the voting.
Hutchinson’s second-place finish is the highest for a defensive player since Manti Te’o of Notre Dame was the runner-up to Johnny Manziel in 2012.
It is also the fifth time that a school has had back-to-back Heisman winners, and the first since Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray pulled off the feat in 2017-18.
A five-star recruit from high school powerhouse Mater Dei in Santa Ana, California, the 20-year-old Young is Alabama’s fourth Heisman winner, all coming in the past 12 years under coach Nick Saban. Other Alabama winners were Mark Ingram in 2009 and Derrick Henry in 2015.
In Young’s first year as a starting quarterback, taking over for first-round draft pick Mac Jones, he completed 68% of his passes for 4,322 yards with a school-record tying 43 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
He also set a school single-game passing mark with 559 yards against Arkansas, breaking a record that had stood for more than 50 years.
The last two games of the season perhaps won him the award and allowed Alabama to stay on track for a chance to defend its title.
Against in-state rival Auburn, Young led a 13-play, 97-yard drive in the last 90 seconds, tying the score at 10 with a 26-yard touchdown pass with 24 seconds left. He then hit John Metchie for a two-point scoring play in the fourth overtime to secure the 24-22 victory.
In last week’s SEC championship game, Young shredded No. 1 Georgia and the nation’s top-ranked defense, throwing for 421 yards and three touchdowns and adding 40 yards and a score on the ground as Alabama again dispatched the Bulldogs in a 41-24 rout.
At times, Young carried the offense when its usual potent running game couldn’t get going.
In a 20-14 victory against LSU in early November, Alabama rushed for only 6 yards, but Young passed for 302. In the last three games of the season, the ground game averaged just 99 yards per game but Young and his talented receivers constantly burned secondaries, as he threw for almost 1,300 yards, 10 touchdowns and one interception.
Young and the top-seeded Tide will take on No. 4 Cincinnati on Dec. 31 in the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Hutchinson’s Wolverines face Georgia in the other semifinal later that day in the Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
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