TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. was not named a Heisman finalist to be invited to New York. Based on his stats compared to the other defensive finalist, some might consider it a snub, but for Anderson it's all good because his quarterback Bryce Young is one of the four finalists for college football's most prestigious individual award.
"If you just go back and watch the whole season from beginning to right now, Bryce is very smart, very instinctive," Anderson said. "He can make plays even in the toughest situations. He can get away from getting sacked. His preparation the whole week and his leadership skills— I think that's what it takes, just being a leader, vocal leader, showing people what to do the right way. He comes to work hard, he never slacks, and I think that's why he should be where he is. And obviously, he's there."
Young is one of the four finalists alongside Michigan defensive lineman Aiden Hutchinson, Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett and Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud.
Anderson said he gets to witness amazing things that Young does in practice every day. Young is the total package of any quarterback that Alabama might face, so what he does in practice helps prepare the Crimson Tide defense for their next opponents.
"So in practice, you’re going to see every type of QB there is in the world—a running quarterback, a passing quarterback, everything," Anderson said. "He fakes you out. He makes you jump when you’re not supposed to. I remember Coach Saban said something to one of the D-lineman. He says, ‘It’s not basketball.’ Because Bryce made them jump in the air like we was playing basketball."
In a game, Anderson said the most impressive thing he's seen Young do was lead the offense on the game-tying drive with seconds left in the Iron Bowl.
"That’s probably like one of the most historical things I've ever seen before and how he kept his composure and everything like that," Anderson said. "It was great.”
Young's best target on the season, wide receiver Jameson Williams, said that drive against Auburn showed the young quarterback's poise and the way he never gets rattled.
"If you were watching the game vs. Auburn, we were down 10-3, 40 seconds left," Williams said. "That last drive, Bryce had a smile on his face. I would never say I’ve seen him rattled or intimated by anything. I feel like he has the mindset that he knows he is going to get the job done."
And get the job done he has. Young has completed 68% of his passes for 4,322 yards and 43 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions on the season. The Alabama quarterback may have just locked up the coveted trophy with his performance against Georgia in the SEC Championship.
With the eyes of the college football world watching against the nation's best defense, Young threw for 421 yards and three touchdowns while nearly having a career rushing day and adding another touchdown on the ground.
That game is one of the many reasons Williams thinks his quarterback is deserving of the Heisman.
"My pitch would be for him to win it," Williams said. "He’s had an incredible season. He’s done a lot of great things. Helped the team out in very tremendous ways. He’s just been a big part to the offense and the team totally."
Of course, the ever-humble Young doesn't like this sort of attention drawn to himself and is always trying to deflect towards his teammates. But on Tuesday, his teammates had the chance to vouch for him and were more than willing. By this point, all the votes have been cast and the winner is already determined, but that didn't stop his teammates for bragging about his incredible season.
If Young were to win, he would be the second straight Heisman winner for the Crimson Tide following DeVonta Smith of last year, and he would become the first quarterback in Alabama history to win the award.
The winner will be announced in New York City on Saturday night broadcast on ESPN starting at 7 p.m.