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BamaCentral 22 for '22: Will Alabama produce a third straight Heisman Trophy winner?

The Crimson Tide is looking to be the first program to achieve the feat since the award was first handed out in 1935.

After falling one win short of adding a 19th national title last season, Alabama will look to rebound and take the next step this year. The Crimson Tide returns a loaded roster, including reigning Heisman winner Bryce Young and a rebuilt offense as well as one of the most talented defenses in the Nick Saban era.

Alabama will open its season on Sept. 3 when it hosts Utah State inside Bryant-Denny Stadium. To help pass the time, BamaCentral’s Joey Blackwell, Tony Tsoukalas and Katie Windham will discuss 22 topics and questions concerning the 2022 season.

Today we continue our series by asking if Alabama will be the first team to produce three straight Heisman Trophy winners.

Blackwell's take

A single player winning the Heisman Trophy in back-to-back seasons has only happened once in history for one glaring reason:

It’s incredibly difficult to do.

As of today, Archie Griffin is the sole player to do so, winning the trophy in 1974 and 1975 as the running back for Ohio State. Even bigger than players, though, there are only six schools in history that have won back-to-back Heisman Trophies, with Alabama being the latest addition after DeVonta Smith and Bryce Young won the award in 2020 and 2021.

This year, the Crimson Tide looks to make history.

Should an Alabama player hoist the trophy this December, it will be the first time in the history of the Heisman that a single school has won the award in three consecutive seasons. So if Young is to win it again, it will be quite a historic year for the award.

Young isn’t the only player with current Heisman odds, though. While Young currently sits at 5/1 odds to win the award in 2022, Crimson Tide running back Jahmyr Gibbs is fourth in odds at 12/1. All the way down at 14th on the list is linebacker Will Anderson Jr. with 33/1 odds — a vote of no confidence in a defensive player taking home the trophy.

All of those numbers just to say this: I don’t believe that Alabama will be taking the Heisman Trophy home for a third year in a row. The odds are incredibly stacked against it. Young has solid competition at quarterback across the board, as does Gibbs at running back. As spectacular of a player that Anderson is, it’s just unrealistic to think at this point in time that a defensive player takes home the trophy.

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That being said, history has to be made at some point, and Alabama certainly has an opportunity to do so this year.

Tsoukalas' take

If the answer was could Alabama produce a third straight Heisman Trophy winner, my answer would be “certainly.” The Crimson Tide has, in my opinion, the best players in the nation on both sides of the ball. I’d even go as far as to say that if Bryce Young and Will Anderson Jr. play up to their potential, one of them should be taking home the hardware this December.

However, if I’m betting on whether or not Alabama will have a third straight Heisman winner, I’m going to take the field.

Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young represents Alabama’s best shot of pulling off the feat. However, a repeat winner has only happened one other time in history. Bryce Young is not only competing with other high-profile quarterbacks in Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Southern California’s Caleb Williams, but he’s also going against himself as he’ll have to surpass a near-perfect season from last year.

The same goes for Anderson if he wants to become the first defensive player to earn the honor since Charles Woodson in 1997. Anderson didn’t even get an invite to New York last year despite leading the nation with sacks (17.5) and tackles for a loss (33.5). With teams likely looking to double-team him more this season, the five-star edge rusher should have a hard time matching those numbers.

Young and Anderson might be the most talented pair of teammates Saban has coached at Alabama, so this is a hard one to totally write off. Fortunately for Crimson Tide fans, the duo should be in a position to lead Alabama to more important hardware in January. 

Windham's take

Alabama joined an elite company of schools winning back-to-back Heisman trophies when Bryce Young won last season to follow up DeVonta Smith's from 2020. Oklahoma came close from 2017-2019, but no school has won three in a row. And in my opinion, that is going to make it even more challenging for the Crimson Tide to have a winner for a third straight season. 

Alabama fatigue can be a real thing, and even though it wouldn't be fair to the player, that could keep a Crimson Tide player from receiving enough votes. In all likelihood, Alabama will have two finalists in Young and Will Anderson Jr. In fact, it could be another year like 2020 where Alabama had three of the top five finishers in Heisman voting (Smith, Mac Jones and Najee Harris.)

And that's another reason I think ti will be difficult for Alabama to win again because when there are multiple capable winners from the same team it causes votes to be split, which is part of the reason Anderson was not a finalist in 2021. 

I fully expect Young to put up similar stats to what he did a season ago and land a spot in New York as a finalist again, but like Joey pointed out, only one player has ever won multiple Heisman trophies, and I think too many factors will stack against the Alabama quarterback to make him the second.