Heisman moments: Bryce Young’s path to glory

Heisman moments: Bryce Young's path to glory

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young became the second Alabama player to win the Heisman Trophy in as many years when he was named the 2021 Heisman winner on Saturday night.

Young’s win was unexpected, even if he is the first Alabama QB to win the Heisman. He entered the ceremony as the undisputed favorite for the award after Alabama finished the season at 12-1 and enters the College Football Playoff as the top seed. His win coupled with DeVonta Smith’s win a year ago also means that Alabama joins Oklahoma (Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray) and USC (Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush) as the only schools to have back-to-back Heisman winners since Archie Griffin won in 1974 and 1975. 

Here are the moments that helped Young win this year’s Heisman Trophy. 

94-yard TD pass to Jameson Williams vs. Miami

Why not start with a throw from Young’s first start?

Alabama was backed up deep in its own territory in the third quarter of the season opener against Miami. The Crimson Tide had a 27-3 lead and Miami didn’t look like it was capable of coming back at all, so you couldn’t blame Alabama for simply trying to run the ball and sit on the lead. Instead, Young hit Jameson Williams for a 94-yard TD pass and a 31-point lead. It was a throw that made you realize that there wasn’t going to be much of a drop-off at quarterback for the Tide in 2021.

Young finished that game 27-of-38 passing for 344 yards and four touchdowns.

3 TDs at Florida

Look, this wasn’t Young’s most complete game. But the Week 3 game against Florida was his first road start and it came against a Florida team that we thought was capable of contending for the SEC East. That contention clearly never happened, but it was clear that the Gators were up for the game.

After Alabama jumped out to a 21-3 lead, Florida outscored Alabama by 10 in the second half to pull within a two-point conversion of tying the game with 3:10 to go. If the Gators get that two, who knows how the course of the season changes in the SEC.

Instead, Alabama moved to 3-0 and Young didn’t turn the ball over in his first time in a hostile road environment. He finished the game 22-of-35 passing for 240 yards and three touchdowns, even if he did look like an inexperienced college QB at times.

Bounce-back at Mississippi State and the air raiding of Arkansas

Alabama knew it had to win out the rest of the way to have a shot at the College Football Playoff following a 41-38 loss at Texas A&M on Oct. 9. And there was no hangover from the loss a week later at Mississippi State.

Young was 20-of-28 passing for 348 yards and four touchdowns in a 49-9 win at Mississippi State. The Crimson Tide quickly silenced the cowbells when Young found John Metchie III for a 46-yard TD pass less than five minutes into the game and the second half began when Young hit Jameson Williams for a 75-yard TD.

That was the first game of the second half of the regular season for Young, a second half that included five games with more than 300 yards passing in the final six.

One of those five games came against Arkansas, when Young threw for an Alabama-record 559 yards and five touchdowns. Young was 31-of-40 passing against the Razorbacks and hit Williams for three touchdowns of over 30 yards.

The final drive at Auburn

Young was having his worst game as a starter at Auburn on Nov. 27. Alabama’s offense was out of sync all day and simply couldn’t get anything going.

The game almost went sideways early in the third quarter when Young was intercepted by Bydarrius Knighten right after Auburn had taken a 10-0 lead. And while Alabama quickly forced a punt, its next drive ended without any points despite taking 12 plays.

Things shifted in the fourth quarter. Alabama finally managed a field goal to cut Auburn’s lead to seven. And then the Crimson Tide got the ball back with 1:35 to go and no timeouts. That’s when Young and the offense broke out of their slump.

Alabama went 97 yards in 12 plays and tied the game when Young hit Ja’Corey Brooks for a 28-yard TD with 24 seconds left. While Young ended with an unimpressive stat line — 25-of-51 passing for 317 yards and two touchdowns — it was a final drive performance that launched him back into the Heisman conversation when Alabama won the game 24-22 in four overtimes.

Young clinches the Heisman vs. Georgia

There was no doubt about the Heisman winner after the SEC championship game. Young made it clear that he would be the guy lifting the trophy with a 421-yard performance against a Bulldog defense that had allowed just seven points again.

Young threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another as Alabama beat previously unbeaten Georgia 41-24 to clinch the top spot in the College Football Playoff and guarantee that Young would be heading to New York for the Heisman ceremony.