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Bryce Young goes No. 1 overall to Panthers, wants to 'represent God through football'

It seemed pretty clear that the Carolina Panthers acquired the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft from the Chicago Bears to draft a quarterback. The question was which one Carolina would take.

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The answer was revealed Thursday night when the Panthers made former Alabama quarterback Bryce Young the first overall pick and new face of their franchise. He was projected to go No. 1 in most mock drafts, so the selection was not a surprising one.

As he spoke to various members of the media, including an on-stage interview with ESPN’s Suzy Kolber, Young made a point of thanking God for putting him in this position.

“It’s a dream come true,” Young told Kolber immediately after hearing his name called. “I’m blessed. I want to thank God for allowing me to be here, for my parents and everyone who’s supported me. Although it’s my name being called, there’s so many people that pushed me and allowed me to be here.”

Young becomes the first Alabama player to be selected No. 1 overall in the common era of the NFL draft (1967). He threw for 8,200 yards and 79 touchdowns in two seasons as a starter for the Crimson Tide, leading the team to an SEC championship and appearance in the national championship game in 2021. He became the first quarterback in school history to throw for 3,000 yards in two different seasons and ranks second all-time in both career passing yards (8,356) and passing touchdowns (80).

After backing up Mac Jones in 2020, Young became Alabama’s starter in 2021 and won the Heisman Trophy that season. He gave glory to God in his acceptance speech and on social media.

The Pasadena, California, native isn’t driven by awards or accolades though. He wants everyone to know he’s only chasing after one thing: the Lord.

“Regardless of how someone else views me, whatever award, accolade, whatever someone may say — negative or positive — I appreciate and am grateful for the positive, and even for the negative,” he said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast last year. “But at the end of the day, what motivates me and pushes me is to model myself after the Lord. I definitely have a lot of work to do. There’s a lot of things I want to improve on as a person, as a player, throughout all aspects of my life.”

Young grew up in a Christian home and was introduced to Christ by his parents, Craig and Julie. He is grateful to them for laying a foundation that allowed him to keep growing closer to God as he matured in his faith.

“For me, it definitely goes to my roots. I’m based in faith,” he said on the podcast. “I’m blessed to have the family that I do that introduced me [to faith] when I was young. Throughout my life, my relationship has grown with the Lord and my faith has improved. Through that, I work to be the best version of myself that I can be and to embody Christ in all that I do.”

Young now gets to learn from a former NFL quarterback and fellow Christ-follower in new Panthers head coach Frank Reich. Carolina is coming off a 7-10 season and hasn’t won more than seven games since 2017.

As he tries to help turn around the franchise, Young’s focus will remain on bringing glory to God through his sport. His faith is incorporated into every aspect of his life.

“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.”

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