Bryce Young is definitely a deserving Heisman Trophy winner. The Alabama second quarterback has pitched for 4,322 yards with 43 touchdowns and four interceptions this season, has completed 68% of his passes and, despite not being a great runner, has earned three scores.
Young is also the fifth quarterback in the past six years to win Heisman, after a straight four was stopped last year by Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith.
There have been 22 Heisman winners 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 who wasn’t a caller in consecutive years.
Players from the same school are more likely to win consecutive Heismans than to see someone from another position win 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.
It’s a natural evolution that makes a lot of sense: it’s now a quarterback game, recruiting is more of a national affair where it’s harder to find someone with lightning-fast rise and the best teams are loaded with talent that allows those best stars to shine. It also ends up draining most of the drama from the Heisman run, because in a year where a top team has a great quarterback, that’s the one who will win. This also includes last year, when Trevor Lawrence finished second behind Smith because he missed a month of the season to deal with COVID-19.
It’s okay that Young won Heisman. He deserves it. The evolution of the award just means it’s not as interesting as it once was, and the biggest surprise on Saturday was remembering that Young is somehow the first quarterback to bring Heisman back to Tuscaloosa.