The Alabama Crimson Tide football program is back in a familiar position: 5-0 and ranked No. 1 in the nation. Steering the ship this year for the defending national champions is sophomore quarterback and first-year starter Bryce Young.
Young has emerged as a potential Heisman Trophy favorite as the calendar turns to October, the weather begins to cool and the College Football Playoff scenarios begin to heat up.
Through five games, Young has amassed 1,365 yards with 17 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He’s completed 73.0 percent of his passes and his passer rating is 185.6. With the exception of a hard-fought 31-29 win at No. 20 Florida, the Tide has won every game by at least 21 points.
What’s even more remarkable is that Young has done it despite the mass exodus of talent from Tuscaloosa after the program won yet another national championship (18th overall, sixth under coach Nick Saban) last January with a 13-0 record. Ten starters had to be replaced in 2021, including quarterback Mac Jones, Heisman Trophy-winning receiver DeVonta Smith, three offensive linemen and running back Najee Harris.
Still, as the spotlight turned to him, Young has kept his record perfect.
“[Young] has really good knowledge of the offense,” Saban said about his new quarterback in a late August press conference. “He’s a bright guy. He makes good choices and decisions. He has a good feel in the pocket and he’s played really well. … I have been pleased with [Young]. I have been pleased with his attitude. I have been pleased with his performance.”
The impressive manner with which Young has handled success should come as a surprise to no one. At Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California, Young turned himself into arguably the top player in his class of 2020. He originally chose USC before de-committing and heading to Alabama to play behind Jones and under Saban’s tutelage.
Despite the hype and the early success, Young says he can play with calmness and without fear, unburdened by the pressure or scrutiny, because of his faith in God.
“I think [my demeanor] comes a lot from my faith,” Young said before last weekend’s 42-21 win against then-No. 12 Ole Miss. “I feel like that’s really where I get my power from. My job is just to glorify God on the field, and I know that everything is written and I can have faith and trust in that.”
Bryce Young: “I think [my demeanor] comes a lot from my faith. I feel like that’s really where I get my power from. Really my job is just to glorify God on the field, and I know that everything is written and I can have faith and trust in that."
— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) September 27, 2021
In January 2020, Young told 247 Sports, “On the football field, for me, it’s kind of about letting go. I’ve played a lot with faith. I’m trying to trust what I’ve done, God and my decisions. I try to play as free and relaxed without holding onto anything.”
Young, who calls himself a “Follower of Christ” and has an image of a cross in his Twitter bio, knows that God is sovereign over everything in this world. It’s why he plays freely, knowing a good God holds all things in His hands.
While at Mater Dei, Young was asked about his favorite Bible passage. Psalm 23 was a no-brainer.
“‘Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,’” Young recited in 2019. “I try to apply that to anything in life. Whether that valley of death be me being annoyed, me being stressed, a football game, a decision … I know regardless of what I’m going through, there is nothing to fear because God has my back.”
Young will lead the unbeaten Crimson Tide into College Station on Saturday to take on SEC West foe Texas A&M, which is 3-2. The game is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.
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