This was a season for Bryce Young that began with great promise that changed with a hit he took Oct. 1 at Arkansas.
The degree to which that throwing-shoulder injury impacted the reigning Heisman Trophy winner is a matter of debate but it’s clear that injury wasn’t a non-factor in the nearly two months since.
Two weeks ago when asked about any lingering practice limitations, Alabama coach Nick Saban’s answer in part deferred to the quarterback. Young stepped to that same podium Monday entering Iron Bowl week, so the question went to the junior from Pasadena.
Is he still on a pitch count, have further practice limitations or is he back to full strength?
“Yeah. I’m good,” Young said. “We have an amazing training staff, coaching staff that manages everything, practice-wise, game-wise. They do a great job of being on top of things.
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“I owe a ton of that to the training room. Being down there, they did so much to get me back healthy and feeling good. So, I feel good, I’m blessed to be in the circumstance where I am and I’m ready to keep pushing. And I feel good now.”
After suffering what Saban called a sprained AC joint in Fayetteville, Young missed the next week’s 24-20 win over Texas A&M. Questions swirled that following week but he was back on the field when Alabama traveled to Tennessee. Young played well, completing 35 of 52 passes for 455 yards and two touchdowns in a game Alabama lost, 52-49.
At the time, Saban said Young’s practice workload was lightened to avoid reinjury but the injury hasn’t caused him to miss a game snap since.
The Monday after losing 32-31 to LSU, Saban was asked about any continuing practice restrictions for Young.
“All indications in terms of what he says to us, to me, to the medical staff, is that he feels good,” Saban said Nov. 7. “That he’s fine. I guess you would have to ask him to really get a sense of how he feels. But he is telling us that he is fine. He said he was fine at practice relative to what he did.”
For the season, Young is completing 63.8% of his 329 passes for 266 yards a game and 24 total touchdowns.
Will Young, Anderson play in bowl game?
This isn’t a familiar situation for an Alabama football team that’s played in all but one College Football Playoff.
So, as it enters the final regular-season game of the season, the questions are here concerning the draft-eligible Crimson Tide stars entering the Iron Bowl.
First-round locks whose team didn’t make a playoff game have routinely sat out bowl games since Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith suffered a major knee injury in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl.
Could this be the final game for Young and Will Anderson in a Crimson Tide jersey? Young said he hasn’t thought about that yet.
“As far as anything with my future, I take everything one day at a time,” he said. “All I’ve been focused on has been the next opponent and obviously, this is huge. This a huge game. This means a lot to our teammates and people in the entire state. So, all I think about is today and how can I be the best version of myself to get ready to put myself in the best circumstances.”
Alabama faced a similar situation three years ago when missing the playoff for the first time. Draft-eligible defensive players Terrell Lewis and Trevon Diggs sat out the Citrus Bowl win over Michigan while receiver Jerry Jeudy suited up for his final game before the Broncos picked him in the first round.
Anderson’s answered in a similar way when asked the same question Young faced.
“You know, I haven’t made any decisions yet,” he said. “I’ve just been real focused on this season and continuing to be a good leader and showing guys the right way of how to do things around here. It’s been a great time around here. Playing in Bryant-Denny has been fun, so many memories. I just want to keep those memories going so it’s been fun and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
Both Young and Anderson are considered early first-round picks if they were to leave Tuscaloosa a year early and enter the draft.