Alabama football fans thank Bryce Young for delivering time after time | Goodbread
With a minute or so to go in the Alabama football team's 49-27 Iron Bowl win over Auburn Saturday, with the Tigers offense driving to try and tighten the score of a lost outcome, a rousing ovation shook Bryant-Denny Stadium at a decibel level one would expect for a home-team touchdown.
Extra loud, with loud sauce and a side of more loud.
Nothing on the field merited any such thing.
I got half a question out − "What's all this …" − when my eyes met one of BDS' massive 30x67-foot video boards. There he was, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, celebrating the victory amid a roar that fan bases reserve for only the most beloved players. He acknowledged the crowd with a mile-wide smile, the kind that players reserve for only the most fulfilling of college careers.
He did it again as he left the field, surrounded by media and well-wishers rolling video with their cellphones, capturing what was almost certainly his final exit from BDS as a player. He blew a kiss to the upper reaches of the stadium, touched a fist to his heart and waved one last time as he entered the tunnel. The 2023 NFL draft awaits, assuming the former Heisman Trophy winner declares early eligibility for it, and Young's ability to throw accurately and extend plays will make him a coveted target of pro general managers.
As their scouts dive into tape of the junior, they'll quickly realize he was the glue for a team that needed as much glue as it could get.
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When the defense struggled, Young didn't.
When the running game sputtered, Young wouldn't.
When penalties moved the Alabama offense backward, nobody did more than Young to push it forward for an unlikely first down.
And at crunch time, with games on the line in the fourth quarter, Young came through win or lose.
When UA posted a season-low 20 points at Texas, it was Young who saved the day with a 20-yard scramble to set up Will Reichard's game-winning field goal. He'd done his part in the Crimson Tide's loss to Tennessee, too, driving UA into field goal range for a potential game-winner with 15 seconds remaining. And even on the night when he was just off − not nearly as accurate as usual in completing 25 of 51 passes against LSU − he led his team on three fourth-quarter scoring drives, then helmed an overtime touchdown, only to be left helpless on the sideline to watch the Tigers score a two-point conversion to win it.
About the only time Alabama wasn't able to count on Young was in a 24-20 win over Texas A&M that he missed with a shoulder injury. Even then, he was as present as a player without a uniform can be, first on the field to greet backup quarterback Jalen Milroe after a touchdown. He missed practices even after gaining medical clearance to return to game action, managing his recovery while delivering on Saturdays.
"I'm sure he played with a little pain at times, which shows the kind of mental toughness he has," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "The guy is a great competitor, he's got great grit, and I can't say enough about what he's done for our team this year."
What he's done commands respect.
What he's done pulled a team together that at times appeared to be on the brink of coming apart.
What he's done probably won't ever fully get the credit it deserves. It gets full credit here.
Reach Chase Goodbread at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @chasegoodbread