Bryce Young: Alabama LB Will Anderson Jr. Deserved to Be Heisman Trophy Finalist

Erin WalshContributor IDecember 7, 2021

AUBURN, ALABAMA - NOVEMBER 27:  Will Anderson Jr. #31 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after sacking TJ Finley #1 of the Auburn Tigers during the first half at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 27, 2021 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young believes his teammate, Crimson Tide linebacker Will Anderson Jr., deserved to be named a finalist for this year's Heisman Trophy, which is awarded annually to college football's most outstanding player.

"I definitely think he was deserving," Young told reporters Tuesday. "If you look at numbers, you look at production, I definitely think he deserves to be there. It's unfortunate that he's not going to be there."

Young, Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett and Ohio State signal-caller C.J. Stroud were announced Monday as this year's finalist for college football's most coveted award. 

Anderson has 92 tackles this season and also leads the country with 32.5 tackles for a loss and 15.5 sacks, per ESPN. He won the Nagurski Award on Monday as college football's best defensive player.

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His 2021 performance has matched up to some of the most dominant defenders over the last 10 years.

Anderson's best performance of the season came against Mississippi State on Oct. 16, when he finished with four sacks, six tackles and four tackles for a loss.

Hutchinson, meanwhile, has 55 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks this year. He didn't record a four-sack game, but did have a three-sack performance against Penn State on Nov. 13.

Anderson seems unbothered by the snub.

"I have nothing to prove to anybody," Anderson said. "It's all what I do. Nobody's expectations are higher for me. ... I'm just gonna keep doing what I've been doing this whole season."

A defensive player has not won the Heisman since 1997 when former Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson won it.

Young is viewed as the favorite to win this year's award. The sophomore has thrown for 4,322 yards, 43 touchdowns and four interceptions this season. He has also rushed for 31 yards and three scores.

One of his best games of the year came in the 41-24 victory over Georgia in the SEC championship game when he threw for 421 yards and three touchdowns, in addition to rushing for 40 yards and a score.

Pickett, meanwhile, threw for 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns against seven interceptions this season. The redshirt Pittsburgh senior also rushed for 233 yards and five touchdowns.

The Heisman winner is set to be announced Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.