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Bryce Young favored to claim Alabama’s first Heisman at QB

Dec 4, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) gestures prior to the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 4, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) gestures prior to the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

An Alabama quarterback has never won the coveted Heisman Trophy.

Bryce Young has become very aware of that fact in recent days and the sophomore is the favorite to become the first when the Heisman is handed out on Saturday in New York.

The other finalists are Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett and Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud.

Young had a fabulous season and guided Alabama to the No. 1 seed in the upcoming College Football Playoff. The first-year starter has a solid chance at ending the drought when the winner is announced.

“It’s something I don’t take for granted,” Young said earlier this week. “To even get an opportunity to go after an accomplishment like this, I’m truly grateful to be in the position that I am.”

The Crimson Tide have had some recent quarterback close calls with AJ McCarron (2013) and Tua Tagovailoa (2018) finishing second, and Mac Jones (2020) finishing third. Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith won the award last season.

Young has thrown for 4,322 yards and 40 touchdowns against just four interceptions. His last showing certainly resonated with voters as he threw for 421 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-24 win over then-No. 1 Georgia in the SEC title game.

The candidacy of Hutchinson has flourished late in the season due to three-sack efforts against Penn State and Ohio State and leading the 42-3 steamrolling of Iowa in the Big Ten title game.

Hutchinson fractured an ankle 13 months ago or he otherwise might have been off to the NFL. Instead, he returned and has etched his name into Michigan lore with a school-record 14 sacks and overall tenacious play.

The biggest hurdle for Hutchinson is that only one primarily defensive player has won the award. Of course, Michigan claims that player in 1997 winner Charles Woodson.

The last defensive player to finish in the Top 3 was Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o (second in 2012). Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh only finished fourth despite a monster season in 2009. Also of note is that Pitt defensive end Hugh Green finished second in 1980 after terrorizing opponents.

But Michigan’s appearance in the CFP for the first time also might earn Hutchinson more votes.

“There’s no question that we’re not in the position that we’re in today without Aidan Hutchison,” Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh said.

Pickett also made a strong late-season push and has surpassed some big records along the way while helping the Panthers win the ACC title.

He set school career marks of 12,303 yards and 81 touchdowns — the latter stood for 39 years after being set by legendary Dan Marino. His 42 passing touchdowns this season broke the ACC mark of 41 set by Clemson’s Deshaun Watson in 2016.

Pickett considered leaving for the NFL after last season but wasn’t thrilled with draft projections. Now he is looked at as a high pick in the first round.

Pickett, who passed for 4,319 yards and seven interceptions, also is looking to join running back Tony Dorsett (1976) as the school’s lone Heisman winner.

“It is an incredible honor to be named a Heisman Trophy finalist,” Pickett said. “I’m so proud to represent our university this weekend in New York City. This honor is about our entire program and all of my teammates and coaches. Just like our ACC Championship, we did this together.”

Stroud also is a first-year starter and passed for 3,862 yards, 38 touchdowns and five interceptions for an Ohio State squad that led the nation in scoring (45.5 points per game) and total offense (551.4 yards per game).

He topped 400 passing yards on four occasions and was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.

“It’s really cool. It’s a blessing,” Stroud told reporters Wednesday of being a finalist. “I never knew it would be this, honestly. I’m just truly blessed and blessed to be around these great people. “I love my teammates to death. Without them, I wouldn’t be here.”

Among the players who didn’t receive an invitation were Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral (20 passing touchdowns, 11 rushing), Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III (second nationally with 1,636 rushing yards) and Alabama linebacker Will Anderson (nation-leading 15.5 sacks).

–Field Level Media