Bryce Young Leaves Tuscaloosa as the Greatest QB in Alabama History
As the confetti laid on the field at the Ceasars Superdome in New Orleans, Bryce Young walked off the field wearing the Crimson and White for the final time after delivering one last sensational performance in the Sugar Bowl.
A career filled with numerous accolades and unforgettable performances that the Alabama faithful will be able to tell for generations. He had stolen the hearts of so many Crimson Tide fans with his play on the field, but more importantly with the humbleness and grace he conducted himself with during his time in Tuscaloosa. His legacy is forever etched in stone, and he leaves the University of Alabama as the greatest quarterback in school history.
Young, a Southern California native committed to USC in July of 2018, the same as every other highly touted Mater Dei quarterback had done before him. The prestigious high school football program in Santa Ana, California has produced players like Matt Leinart, Matt Barkley, Max Wittek and JT Daniels over the last 20 years, all of whom attended USC.
However, with the USC program struggling and the uncertainty surrounding the future of Clay Helton at head coach, Young flipped his commitment to Alabama in September of 2019. Since the Trojans last conference championship win in 2017 and their last New Year’s Six Bowl win in 2016, other programs have won more and more recruiting battles out west in areas that used to be off-limits during the Pete Carroll era.
Young signed with Alabama as the nation's top-ranked dual-threat quarterback by all major outlets in the 2020 recruiting cycle and as the highest-rated quarterback recruit in school history. He dazzled in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and earned offensive MVP honors. Young was named the All-American Bowl Player of the Year, the 2019 High School Quarterback of the Year by the National Quarterback Club, the Maxwell Offensive Player of the Year and shared the MaxPreps Player of the Year honors during his senior season.
He enrolled early in the spring 2020, ready to battle redshirt junior Mac Jones for the starting position, but spring ball was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Young entered the season as the backup to Jones and made his first appearance in Alabama’s season opener against Missouri.
A 19-year-old Young trotted onto the field with a 1:09 remaining in the third quarter with his parents, Craig and Julie Young watching in the stands in their No. 9 jerseys. His first pass attempt was a low snap that he gathered it, took a massive hit and flipped it out to DeVonta Smith for a 6-yard gain. The next play on third-and-four, Young threw a beautiful corner pass to Smith in front of the Alabama sideline for 23 yards. Three plays later on third-and-nine, he stood in the pocket and fired a dart across the middle to Smith for 14 yards.
The arm talent, accuracy and his poise in the pocket was on display from his very first appearance. He had another opportunity to show the Crimson Tide fans what he could do throwing the football late in Alabama’s blowout win over Kentucky.
Young lofted a pass along the left sideline to Smith for 35 yards that very few collegiate quarterbacks could make. Alabama continued to move the ball with ease with Young under-center. Later in the drive, on third-and-goal, Young made a defender miss after he beaten the tackle on an inside move and delivered a bullet in between two defensive backs to Smith for his first career touchdown pass.
He watched Mac Jones put up one of the greatest quarterback seasons in recent memory and lead Alabama to a perfect 13-0 record and the school's 18th national championship. Although, Young only threw 22 passes during his freshman campaign, he showed glimpses that the future of the quarterback position at Alabama was in good hands.
The following spring, Alabama’s A-Day game would be on ESPN, giving Young another opportunity to showcase in skill in front the country. He threw for 333 yards and a touchdown and won MVP honors.
Young made his first career start against the Miami Hurricanes in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game down in Atlanta and quickly put the college football world on notice. He marched down the field on Alabama’s opening possession and hit John Metchie for a 37-yard touchdown, showing the big stage was not too much for him. Young connected with tight end Cameron Latu twice for a touchdown in the first half and then in third quarter, uncorked a 94-yard bomb to Jameson Williams for a touchdown. His 344 yards and four touchdowns were the most by a Crimson Tide quarterback in a starting debut.
The next test came when Alabama traveled to The Swamp to take on the Florida Gators in front of rocking crowd. He responded by throwing three touchdown passes in the first quarter and leading the Tide to a narrow victory. The following week against Southern Miss, Young’s 90.9 completion percentage set a school single-game record and he became the first player in school history with five passing touchdowns and two or fewer incompletions in a game.
A few weeks later, on the Third Saturday in October, the Alabama offense got off to a slow start and the ESPN broadcast caught a conversation shared between head coach Nick Saban and Young on the sideline. The two shared a special relationship and the conversation showed just how well the two of them worked together. Young responded by becoming the first quarterback in program history with 350-plus passing yards and two rushing touchdowns in the game against Tennessee.
Alabama players once again got to light up those celebratory cigars inside of Bryant-Denny Stadium. At this point, the sophomore quarterback had more than lived up to the billing and far exceeded any expectations of him before the season.
The Alabama signal-caller would continue rewriting the Alabama record book on his way to having the most prolific passing season in school history. Late in the year in a game against New Mexico State, Young became the first quarterback in Alabama history to complete his first 13 passes in a game and broke his own record by completing 91-percent of his passes.
The Crimson Tide faced another top-25 matchup when the Arkansas Razorbacks came to town. Young threw for five touchdowns for the third time this season for 559 yards, breaking Scott Hunter’s single-game passing yards record that had stood for 52 years.
Next up was the Iron Bowl and what would be a moment that Alabama fans will never forget. He took the field down seven and needing to go 97 yards with 1:37 remaining, no timeouts and without his top target Jameson Williams.
After back-to-back incompletions to begin the drive and with the pressure caving down on him, Young stepped up into the pocket and connected John Metchie for a 22-yard completion. Later in the drive, Young found himself in a 4th-and-7 at the Auburn 42. He flashed a quick smile before the fourth down play and then preceded to hit Jahleel Billingsley for a 14-yard completion in front of the Alabama sideline and leave the Auburn crowd stunned. Another set of back-to-back incompletions left just 29 seconds left on the clock. On 3rd-and-10, Young took the snap, backpedaled and lofted a pass for Ja’Corey Brooks for a 28-yard touchdown to send the game into overtime.
Alabama and Auburn traded touchdowns in the first overtime and then field goals in the second. Both teams converted their two-point conversions in the third overtime and when Kool-Aid McKinstry broke up a pass on Auburn’s attempt in the fourth overtime, Alabama had a chance to win it. Young called a play for Metchie to pull off the comeback victory 24-22 in four overtimes.
Young carried that momentum and delivered a performance for the ages against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. His 421 passing yards and 461 yards of total offense were both a title game record. He became the first quarterback in Alabama history to win college football’s most prestigious award, the Heisman trophy. Young earned consensus first-team All-American honors and also claimed the Maxwell Award, Davey O'Brien and Manning awards. He was recognized as college football's Player of the Year by the Associated Press and The Sporting News.
He led Alabama back to the College Football Playoff and a berth in the National Championship Game for the sixth time in the last seven years. However, with John Metchie and out with a torn ACL and Williams suffering the same fate in the second quarter, Young and the Crimson Tide offense struggled to find any rhythm against Georgia’s No. 1 ranked defense. He was sacked four times, hit 10 times and pressured on 44.3 percent of his drop backs and Kelee Ringo’s 79-yard pick-six sealed Alabama’s fate in the title game.
Young finished the season by setting the Alabama single-season marks for passing yards (4,872), touchdowns (47) and completions (366).
He returned home to Southern California in the summer, where he had his name added to Heisman Lane with John Huarte and Matt Leinart at Mater Dei High School. The only high school with three Heisman trophy winners.
With Alabama down six in the fourth quarter, Young led an 11-play, 75-yard drive and connected with running back Jahmyr Gibbs for a 7-yard touchdown to take the lead. After Texas regained the lead, Alabama needed its star quarterback to deliver some late game magic. He took the field with a 1:29 remaining and regulation and like he did the previous season against Auburn, played his best football when the team needed him most. Young marched right down the field, hitting Gibbs for a big 20-yard completion and his 20-yard run set up Will Reichard to hit a 33-yard field goal to give Alabama the 20-19 victory. His poise and composure in the most pressure packed moments are a quality that stood out throughout his time as the starting quarterback.
After a hot start a few weeks later on the road against Arkansas, Young suffered a shoulder injury that would sideline him in the second half of that game and the following week against Texas A&M.
He returned for the Tide’s top-10 matchup against Tennessee. Young showed no signs that his shoulder injury would hold him back as he accumulated 455 yards and two touchdowns through the air, but Alabama would ultimately fall on a last second kick in Knoxville. Three weeks later, the Tide would suffer its second loss of the season when LSU scored on a two-point conversion in overtime to secure a one-point victory.
After accounting for 391 yards of total offense and four-touchdowns in the Iron Bowl, Young said farewell to the crowd at Bryant-Denny Stadium for the final team and what many believed would be his final time in an Alabama uniform.
However, Young still had some unfinished finished. In an era where draft eligible players elected to skip out on bowl games, he wanted to throw on the Crimson and White one last time. He went out and was spectacular against Kansas State, throwing for 321 yards and five touchdowns. It was his fifth five touchdown pass of his career, the most in school history. Young has left his mark on the program and leaves as simply the greatest Alabama has ever seen.