What Alabama football's Bryce Young remembers about being recruited by Nick Saban
INDIANAPOLIS — It was the last day of eighth grade.
Before Bryce Young's high school journey even began, he received his first college scholarship offer. He was visiting Texas Tech. He wasn't expecting it, but Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury extended the offer.
"Something you hope for and dream about," Young said Saturday as he and Alabama football (13-1) prepare for the College Football Playoff championship on Monday (7 p.m., ESPN). "But for it to be a reality that obviously you have to maintain during high school, and make sure your grades are good and all that. But it kind of became a reality that I'd be able to play football at the next level. Kind of getting that confirmation, it was a tremendous blessing."
Kingsbury's foresight was impressive. Young is now Alabama's first quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy. He has completed 67.6% of his passes for 4,503 yards, 46 touchdowns and just five interceptions this season. He will lead the Crimson Tide against Georgia (13-1) on Monday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Meanwhile, Kingsbury is the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, on his way to the NFL playoffs.
As Young's recruitment continued, Alabama coach Nick Saban eventually stood out for a number of reasons. The established championship reputation was a factor, as was Saban's ability to adapt to the changing landscape of college football over the years. (Saban is 70 as Alabama makes its latest title effort.)
But one recruiting trait resonated most with Young.
"What really stuck out was how real he was. Some coaches can make you promises in recruiting, and once you really understand it and start to think about it, nothing's promised in recruiting," Young said. "When you start to hear those promises, it starts to become a little bit of a red flag knowing that, hearing a coach promise you this or that when you've heard it might not be like that when you get there.
"Coach Saban was always direct with me. He never promised me anything. He only promised me opportunities to compete. He told me from the jump in recruiting that this wasn't a place for everyone, and exactly the type of player and person that he was looking for. ... He was always honest and always real with me in recruiting. That was something that really stuck with me and really separated this place from every other place in the country."