Alabama's Bryce Young Says He's Been 'Counted Out' After Winning 2021 Heisman Trophy

Adam WellsDecember 12, 2021

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11: The Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback Bryce Young from Alabama speaks at the 2021 Heisman Trophy finalist press conference at the Marriott Marquis Hotel on December 11, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

For Bryce Young, winning the 2021 Heisman Trophy was a validating moment in his life as a football player.

The Alabama quarterback explained why he was often underestimated while growing up.

"For me, I've always been someone who's been labeled as not the prototype—being an African American QB and being 'undersized.' I've always been ruled out and counted out," Young said onstage at the Jazz at Lincoln Center's Appel Room on Saturday. "It's always been about not really proving them wrong, but proving it to myself."

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Young had massive shoes to fill when he was named Alabama's starting quarterback for the 2021 season.

The Crimson Tide were coming off a historic 2020 campaign. They went 13-0, won the College Football Playoff championship and ranked second in the nation with 48.5 points per game.

Mac Jones threw for a school-record 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns as the Crimson Tide starter last year. He set an FBS record with a 77.4 completion percentage.

Few players would be able to handle that kind of pressure, but Young has been open about being very driven.

"You can't take a day off," he told The Ringer's Mirin Fader in November about preparing like he's still trying to make the Crimson Tide roster. "You can't relax."

Fader also noted that Young would hear quotes from college coaches interested in recruiting him about his diminutive stature.

"I like him, but we gotta see if he grows" was one refrain Young heard, according to Fader.

Alabama's athletic website officially lists Young at 6'0" and 194 pounds. He was able to overcome that size stigma throughout his high school tenure. The California native was rated as a 5-star prospect and No. 2 overall player in the 2020 class, per 247Sports' composite rankings.

Young originally committed to USC but backed off that decision in order to attend Alabama. It's a move that has paid off for both sides. The 20-year-old is the newly crowned Heisman winner. He's also preparing to lead Alabama into the College Football Playoff semifinal against Cincinnati on Dec. 31.