Alabama has another Heisman Trophy winner.
Crimson Tide QB Bryce Young was unsurprisingly named the 2021 Heisman winner on Saturday. Young entered the ceremony as a massive favorite after his performance in the SEC championship game. He was a finalist for the award along with Pitt QB Kenny Pickett, Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud and Michigan DL Aidan Hutchinson.
Hutchinson finished second ahead of Pickett and Stroud. Young got 684 first-place votes and had more than eight times as many votes for the top spot than Hutchinson.
Young is 314-of-462 passing for 4,322 yards and 43 TDs with just four interceptions through 12 games this season. Alabama is the top seed in the College Football Playoff and plays Cincinnati on New Year’s Eve in the Cotton Bowl.
Young — the first Alabama QB to win the Heisman Trophy — was great in the SEC title game as he threw for 421 yards and three touchdowns in Alabama’s 41-24 win over Georgia. That win knocked the Bulldogs from the unbeaten ranks and cemented Alabama’s spot in the playoff.
His SEC title game performance came a week after Young rebounded from a poor performance against Auburn to lead Alabama to a comeback victory. Alabama drove 97 yards for a game-tying touchdown in the final minutes of regulation on the way to a 24-22 win over Auburn in four overtimes. Young and Alabama’s offense had been out of sync all afternoon but picked apart Auburn’s defense on the final drive of the fourth quarter to get the game to overtime.
Young set the Alabama single-game passing record on Nov. 20 with 559 yards and five touchdowns against Arkansas. That was his second consecutive game with five touchdown passes after he was 21-of-23 for 270 yards in an easy day’s work against New Mexico State a week before.
The 2021 Heisman race was wide open until Young surged in the final weeks of the season. Stroud took a turn as the favorite when Ohio State’s offense exploded in November before fading in the race when the Buckeyes lost to Michigan in the final week of the season. A dominant performance in that win vaulted Hutchinson into the Heisman race.
Pickett, meanwhile, put himself firmly in the mix to be the first QB drafted in the 2022 NFL draft with his performance this season. Pickett was 334-of-497 passing for 4,319 yards with 42 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season for the Panthers as they won their first ACC title.
Alabama has back-to-back Heisman winners
Young’s Heisman win comes a year after Alabama wide receiver DeVotna Smith became the first wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy since Desmond Howard and his win means that three schools have produced the last five Heisman winners. LSU’s Joe Burrow won the 2019 award after Oklahoma quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray went back-to-back in 2017 and 2018.
The 2021 season was Young’s first as a starter. He was the primary backup to Mac Jones in 2020 as Jones and Smith helped lead Alabama to a national title. Jones finished third in the Heisman voting to Smith and Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence in his only full season as a starting QB at Alabama.
An Alabama QB has finished in the top three of the Heisman voting four times since 2013 and at least one Alabama player has finished in the top three in six of the last nine seasons.
Young is the fourth Heisman winner from Alabama since Nick Saban took over as head coach. Alabama and Oklahoma are now tied with four Heisman winners each since the turn of the century. USC unofficially has three, though Reggie Bush’s Heisman Trophy in 2005 is officially listed as vacated.
Modern defensive history
The Heisman revealed the players who finished Nos. 5-10 in the voting on Thursday night and Alabama linebacker Will Anderson finished fifth. Anderson has 32.5 tackles for loss so far this season and had a strong case to be a Heisman finalist.
Hutchinson and Anderson are the first two defensive players to finish in the top five of the Heisman voting in 59 years. The last time two defenders made the top five was in 1962 when Minnesota’s Bobby Bell and Alabama’s Lee Roy Jordan finished third and fourth in the voting.
Heisman top 10
1. QB Bryce Young, Alabama
2. DL Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
3. QB Kenny Pickett, Pitt
4. QB C.J. Stroud. Ohio State
5. LB Will Anderson, Alabama
6. RB Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State
7. QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss
8. QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
9. DL Jordan Davis, Georgia
10. RB Breece Hall, Iowa State