Summer 2024

Alabama tops preseason AP poll with QB Bryce Young focused on embodying Christ

For the fifth time in seven years, the Alabama Crimson Tide has the top spot in the preseason AP top 25 college football poll. It marks the 15th consecutive season ‘Bama is ranked No. 1 for at least one week.

It received 54 of the 63 first-place votes after going 13-2 and losing to Georgia in the national championship game last season. Ohio State, Georgia, Clemson and Notre Dame round out the top five.

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Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young headlines a talented group of returners hoping to claim Alabama’s second national title in three years and seventh overall under head coach Nick Saban.

“There’s a lot of excitement surrounding this year, this team,” the QB said on an episode of the Sports Spectrum Podcast to be released Aug. 31. “Obviously, it’s a new group of guys. … [Saban] has a very strict policy year to year that you’re not entitled to anything, so right now, it’s all of us individually proving ourselves, us pushing each other to get better.”

In his first season as a starter, Young threw for 4,872 yards, the second-highest total in the country. His 47 passing touchdowns ranked second as well.

The Crimson Tide finished the regular season 11-1 and beat Georgia, 41-24, in the SEC championship game to claim the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff. A 21-point win over Cincinnati in the semifinals set up a rematch with the Bulldogs, which ‘Bama lost 33-18.

Young was open on the podcast about the lessons he and his teammates learned from coming so close to winning it all. The main one he’s carrying into this season is that there’s no substitute for hard work.

“I think the biggest thing that I took away — we took away as a unit — is that all things come to light,” Young said. “I think there was a lot of shortcuts we were taking, a lot of stuff we weren’t doing to our level, to our standard. A lot of little things that we should’ve ironed out that didn’t really get ironed out. In the big moments throughout the season, I think all those little things got exposed.”

The Pasadena, California, native arrived in Tuscaloosa to much fanfare as the heir apparent to the Alabama dynasty at the quarterback position. He threw 13 total passes as a freshman while he watched Mac Jones lead the Crimson Tide to a national championship and perfect season in 2020.

Then it was Young’s turn, and he did not disappoint. The Heisman was just one of the many awards and honors he received. He was also the SEC Offensive Player of the Year, the AP Player of the Year and the winner of the Maxwell Award, among other recognitions.

Through it all, he’s leaned on his faith in God. Raised by Christian parents who encouraged him to prioritize his relationship with the Lord from an early age, Young’s faith has kept him grounded as he’s become a bigger and bigger star. What matters most to him is carrying himself in a way that brings glory to the Lord.

“I work to be the best version of myself that I can be and to embody Christ in all that I do,” he said on the podcast. “So, for me, regardless of how someone else views me, whatever award, accolade, what someone may say … at the end of the day, what motivates me and pushes me is to model myself after the Lord.”

The first words in Young’s Twitter and Instagram bios are “Follower of Christ,” and his banner image on Twitter is a cross. He does not separate his faith from anything in his life, including football.

“I bring my faith in all that I do,” he said on the podcast. “I work hard and try to do my best to represent God through football. Whether it’s small things, big things, whatever it is, I understand that God’s with me.”

Young is also featured in the Fall 2022 edition of Sports Spectrum Magazine, which will be available soon. Alabama starts its season at home against Utah State on Sept. 3.

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