Alabama trailed Auburn 10-3 with 1:32 to play and needed a 97-yard drive to tie the game in front of a frantic and hostile crowd.
At the time, second-year quarterback Bryce Young did not deliver an unforgettable speech or phrase. Young and his teammates just let the play speak for itself.
“It really was just the culmination of events, and we worked together and built trust in each other and believed in each other,” Young told Sporting News. “In a situation like that, we all understood what was at stake. We all understood what we had to do.
“We were all ready for the moment.”
It took 12 plays, a fourth conversion and 7 and a third and 10 touchdown pass to Ja’Corey Brooks to tie the Iron Bowl, and everything else was a windfall. Crimson Tide beat the Tigers in four overtime. Alabama beat No. 1 Georgia in the SEC championship game on December 4 and Young won the Heisman Trophy on December 12.
Young, who threw for 4,322 yards, 43 TDs and four interceptions, will lead Crimson Tide to a college football playoff semifinal on Dec. 31 against Cincinnati as the leader of the No. 1 seed. For his efforts, he is the Soccer Player. 2021 College American of the Year from Sporting News. He joins Tua Tagovailoa (2018) and DeVonta Smith (2020) as the third player in the last four years to win the accolade.
In a way, that was also the culmination of events. Young has been on the big stage since high school, where he was a five-star quarterback at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California. He was the first African-American quarterback in the school’s history, passing for 4,528 yards and 58 TDs. as a senior.
He also played in a legendary Division I state championship game against St. John Bosco and now Clemson’s quarterback DJ Uigalelei. Young threw for 405 yards and five touchdowns in a 39-34 loss. That was part of Young’s learning curve, one he said comes from chasing after the best competition.
“When you’re playing it’s always relative,” Young said. “Obviously, I would say that the SEC championship game is bigger than a conference championship game in high school, but at that point that’s not the case,” he said. “It’s just your next championship game.”
Young spent his senior year in high school watching Tagovailoa from afar. His first season in Alabama was spent watching Mac Jones, who led the Crimson Tide to a perfect 13-0 record and the national championship. Young watched the prospective first-round player in the weight room and on the driving range and saw that translate to success on the field.
“It was all of that, and then seeing how (Tagovailoa and Jones) grew and led the team,” Young said. “I was young, and being able to witness that as my first college experience was very beneficial to me.”
Young still entered the season as a mystery. Alabama lost offensive players Jones, Smith, Najee Harris and Jaylen Waddle in the 2021 NFL Draft, and Bill O’Brien replaced Steve Sarkisian as offensive coordinator. Ohio State transfer receiver Jameson Williams took on a prominent role alongside John Metchie III.
Young has nicknames for all three. He did that job with “OB,” “Metch” and “Jameo” in the offseason, and credited those three with helping him dominate the offense. That translated into a 344-yard, four-TD debut against Miami in Game 1. Young unknowingly set the pace for a confusing Heisman career right there.
Young’s calm demeanor, even after a 41-38 loss to Texas A&M on October 9, never wavered. After the Iron Bowl victory, Young passed for 421 yards, rushed for 40 yards and totaled four TDs in a 41-24 victory over Georgia. That put Crimson Tide in the CFP for the seventh time, and they will have a chance to win a seventh national championship with Nick Saban.
“It’s just understanding what is needed and what is necessary. It was a great result (against Georgia),” he said. “We were able to achieve one of our goals, which is the SEC championship. That’s great, but we also understood that that’s not going to have anything to say to win a game against Cincinnati.”
Young is immersed in “The Process.” He recited Saban’s line on creating self-value within the team, and it’s clear that the quarterback seems destined for the same success that Tagovailoa and Jones are experiencing at the next level. Young, however, maintains the maturity that accompanies the present tense. Young was one of Alabama’s SN first-team All-Americans along with Williams, tackle Evan Neal and linebacker Will Anderson Jr.
In that setting, Young said it’s about preparing for the next moment.
“That’s one of the wonders of being in Bama,” Young said. “You know that if you take care of your business on the field as a team and you win, individual accolades and awards are not something you have to worry about. We all understand that, and it makes it so much easier to focus on what’s important, and that’s winning games “.