Bryce Young is certainly a deserving Heisman Trophy winner. Alabama’s sophomore quarterback has thrown for 4,322 yards with 43 touchdowns and four interceptions this season, completed 68 percent of his passes, and despite not being a big-time runner, carried three scores in himself.
Young also is the fifth quarterback in the last six years to win the Heisman, after a run of four straight was broken last year by Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith.
There have been 22 Heisman winners in this century, and all but four — Reggie Bush, Mark Ingram, Derrick Henry, and Smith — have been quarterbacks. You have to go back to 1997-99, with Charles Woodson, Ricky Williams, and Ron Dayne, to find the last time the Heisman went to someone other than a signal-caller in back-to-back years.
You’re more likely to get players from the same school winning consecutive Heismans than you are to see someone from another position win it twice in a row. Matt Leinart and Bush did it in 2004 and 2005, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray in 2017 and 2018, and now Smith and Young.
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It’s a natural evolution that makes plenty of sense: it’s a quarterback’s game now, recruiting is more of a national affair in which it’s harder to find someone having a meteoric rise, and the best teams are loaded with talent that allows those top stars to shine. It also winds up draining most of the drama out of the Heisman race, because in a year where a top team has a top quarterback, that’s who’s going to win. That even includes last year, when Trevor Lawrence finished second to Smith because he missed a month of the season dealing with COVID-19.
It’s fine that Young won the Heisman. He deserves it. The award’s evolution just means that it isn’t as interesting as it once was, and the biggest surprise of Saturday was the reminder that Young is somehow the first quarterback to bring the Heisman back to Tuscaloosa.