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Alabama's Will Anderson Jr., Bryce Young Voted Top 2022 CFB Players in ESPN Survey

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 17, 2022

Will Anderson Jr. (Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)

Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. was voted the best player in college football for the 2022 season in an ESPN survey released Wednesday.

Anderson was followed by quarterback Bryce Young, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, giving the Crimson Tide the nation's top two players, according to the poll's 11,000 respondents.

Here's a look at the top 10:

  1. Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama OLB)
  2. Bryce Young (Alabama QB)
  3. C.J. Stroud (Ohio State QB)
  4. Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State WR)
  5. Bijan Robinson (Texas RB)
  6. Jalen Carter (Georgia DT)
  7. TreVeyon Henderson (Ohio State RB)
  8. Brock Bowers (Georgia TE)
  9. Jordan Addison (USC WR)
  10. Caleb Williams (USC QB)

Expectations are once again sky-high for Nick Saban and the Tide. They were voted No. 1 in both the Associated Press and AFCA Coaches preseason Top 25 polls.

Alabama is always a safe bet to end up in contention for a national championship, having qualified for the College Football Playoff in seven of the format's eight years in existence. It captured titles in 2016, 2018 and 2021.

Anderson and Young lay the foundation for another strong year in Tuscaloosa, and they'll have plenty of help thanks to a star-studded supporting cast. Here are the other Tide players who landed inside the ESPN poll:

  • RB Jahmyr Gibbs (No. 20)
  • S Jordan Battle (No. 23)
  • LB Dallas Turner (No. 24)
  • CB Eli Ricks (No. 45)
  • LB Henry To'oTo'o (No. 54)
  • OL Emil Ekiyor Jr. (No. 96)

In typical fashion, Saban was quick to downplay outside expectations following the release of the preseason polls.

"As we always do, it's kind of like here we go again in making predictions about how young people, adolescents, will perform in the future," Saban told reporters. "So that's why we play the games."

Anderson referenced the trophy the Tide received for finishing as the runner-up in last year's CFP as part of the team's motivation.

"We don't know anything about that [ranking] stuff," the junior linebacker said. "And the motivation in the locker room is everything that we did last, all the bad things that we did last year. That's the only motivation that we need, that we didn't get our end goal, that we have a participation trophy sitting in the cafeteria that we have to look at every day."

Fellow powerhouses Ohio State, Georgia, Clemson and Notre Dame rounded out the top five in both preseason polls.

Based purely on talent, however, it's easy to see why the Tide are the early favorite to chase down the program's 19th national title.

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