How Bryce Young is poised to lead Alabama in the college football playoffs after 15 years of preparation

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Bryce Young reveals himself privately. Oh, we’ve all seen the games and the awards. But to get a glimpse of Alabama’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, you’ll need to get back to his southern California home in the back seat of his parents’ car and travel the 80 miles from Pasadena to Irvine.

“I was a little kid,” said Young. “I didn’t know where Irvine was. I fell asleep in the car and woke up and there I was. “

That was 15 years ago in 2006. Young was 5 and was working with a quarterback coach for the first time. Tim Arthurs still holds the Ohio high school record (72.5% in 1998).

Given her son’s age and what was at stake, Julie Young had an immediate proclamation for her husband, Craig: “[She thoughts] I was crazy, “he said.” She said, ‘Where’s all the money?’ “

We now know the ultimate answer to that question. Bryce Young becomes the first Alabama quarterback to win the Heisman. He’s also proven comfortable in the long shadow of first-time quarterback starters in Alabama.

Young is the ninth player of its kind to have played a full season since 2009. Five of them have won national championships this first season: Greg McElroy (2009), AJ McCarron (2011), Jake Coker (2015), Jalen Injured (2017), MacJones (2020). Young technically already has a ring as he supported Jones last season.

It’s what you don’t see that got Young and Alabama back into the college football playoffs. It took an enlightenment from his father, who begged his son to get in the car and cover the 80 kilometers to … what exactly?

As nifty as football may be, projecting a 5 year old’s talents is almost impossible. Craig Young tried.

“Julie said, ‘Will exercise be important in your relationship with your son? You have to do better because I think this will affect your relationship,” he recalled of his wife. “I saw the potential in him. I didn’t mean to screw it up. That made me feel arrogant.”

This is another example of The Process being a process. For everything we see and know about Bryce Young, much of his ascent has fallen from prying eyes. While Papa had to adapt, the son always seemed the same.

“He always had the ability to stay calm in chaos and not see it as chaos,” said Craig.

Making the Cotton Bowl semifinals, Bryce has shown that he’s an incredibly mobile quarterback who isn’t exactly explosive as a runner (71 tries for 31 yards in 13 games). His game is so refined it looks like Alabama may win a national title, with Young merely playing pitch-and-catch with Biletnikoff Award finalist Jameson Williams.

Pretty quietly, Young crept within 179 meters of the Crimson Tide record in a single season set by Mac Jones last year. A sign of what Alabama has become: this record has been broken five times since 2010.

Oh yeah, and Alabama was the sixth program to win consecutive Heismans. Another indication of what has become of Bama: Hardware is drawn to Crimson & White like Saban to the recruiting path. Actually, there is no one without the other.

“That’s one of the main reasons I went to Alabama,” said Young. “I knew that I never had to worry about individual awards.”

But this Alabama quarterback definitely has a “weakness”. This quality has also been shown privately. According to his parents, Young is extremely competitive. While not uncommon for a top athlete, this competition is competitive after losing in monopoly.

Board games, card games, bowling, mini golf,” added Julie.

“It was so annoying,” said Craig. “He wins 90% of the time. When he lost, he didn’t want to talk.”

How did that work when Alabama lost to Texas A&M as favorites with two touchdowns on October 9? When the tide was up, her quarterback was understandably … upset. Alabama was beaten by a backup QB, Zach Calzada, who is currently on the transfer portal. It still confuses the mind.

“He didn’t really lose much from high school,” said Craig. “If he loses a game we know we won’t talk to him. He’ll handle it. He doesn’t want hugs and attaboys. We’ll tell him we love him, text him.” , and send him a scripture. Then he will always answer, whatever will be the case the next day. “

That competitive advantage has always driven Young to play “up”, whether it be competing against older kids at the Pop Warner Ball, moving to national high school power in Mater Dei in Orange County, or forcing the 97 yard tide in the final 95 seconds to force overtime in Auburn as a second grader.

“I’m always kind of [thrive] the elderly, “said Young.” It just kind of got natural. You’re trying to push yourself, the best version of myself. You’re just trying to surround yourself with people who challenge you. ”

“There is an upper limit for a 5-year-old,” he said of starting training at a young age. “It was like I just set that tone and started working. It felt good to chase the best and avoid me. “

Before Young was challenged by Alabama’s new offensive coordinator, Bill O’Brien, he knew it was going to be a challenge. How would the aspiring starter bond with an NFL head coach and general manager coming back to college to be a coordinator again?

“I made this crazy attempt to investigate,” said Young. “How is he? I tried calling people who knew him. As head coach and general manager, he trained Tom Brady.” [with the Patriots]. I wasn’t sure what to expect. “

O’Brien could easily have outdone the first runner and would not have been blamed for having done it. In addition to working with Brady, O’Brien designed and developed Deshaun Watson. He basically kept Penn State Football lively in his two years with the Nittany Lions following the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

“When I first met him the success he had was crazy about how humble he was to work with me,” said Young. “He gives me so much say. His door is always open. We can talk about things outside and in the field. He is always open to change.

“If he loves a piece and I don’t like it, he won’t name it. For someone with such a rich coaching history, he could easily have come and said, ‘You have nothing to say. I’ll call.” plays. You have no choice. Just listen. ‘”

Since November, life at Young has been like a charging linebacker. In early November, Alabama was in third place nationwide, behind Cincinnati and Georgia.

What followed changed the player and his team. Three wins with a touchdown or less (LSU, Arkansas, Auburn) were wrapped around the annual non-conference laughter (New Mexico state). The proximity of these SEC victories might have raised more questions than answered until 1:35 seconds remained at the Jordan Hare Stadium.

It was there at its own 3 and needed a touchdown to tie the Tigers when all that training, all that competitiveness came into play. Young drove his team 97 yards to tie the game 24 seconds back. Bama eventually won in overtime. Until then, the Tide kept its SEC and playoff hopes alive.

“I could see it in everyone’s eyes. We all understood what was at stake,” said Young. “… someone in the past wouldn’t help us in the future.”

That’s quite a statement in a program with so much history. At that moment, Young laid the team on their backs. Given Craig’s enlightenment, it was a bigger statement. Caring supervision replaced arrogance.

“Instead of saying, ‘What are you doing?’ When he missed a throw? it got more cooperative, “said Craig of his son’s younger days. “Getting yelled at kind of went away. I’ve started with a lot of positive things. There aren’t any [other] Quarterback I want on my team. “

It’s hard to believe that Bryce Young got his first offering from Texas Tech at the age of 14. This came from Kliff Kingsbury.

Give Kingsbury credit for having an eye for talent. By the time Young’s Class of 2020 signed, Patrick Mahomes – the Texas Tech quarterback when Young was offered – had won a Super Bowl and become an NFL MVP. By this point Kingsbury had enrolled himself in the NFL and was driving another Heisman winner in Kyler Murray.

The world is spread out before Young. We got a glimpse of his potential off the field when coach Nick Saban noted last summer that his quarterback could generate $ 1 million in revenue with his naming, image and image rights. While the high number was questioned at the time, sources told CBS Sports that it was correct.

Stanford manager David Shaw said of what many of us wrote, “I understand that Nick wanted to plant this and make sure people know. It’s a great way to recruit people to come to you.”

In another private moment, while walking from Rockefeller Center in New York with the other Heisman contestants for a photoshoot earlier this month, Young was asked if his trainer had actually intended to bring the next Bryce Young the $ 1 million -Recruit Revelation.

“Coach Saban always knows what he’s doing,” said Young. “Coach is always right.”

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