The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, December 07, 2021 1:00 am

Tide QB favorite among Heisman finalists

Joined by 2 more QBs, Michigan defensive end

RALPH D. RUSSO | Associated Press

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett and Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud were announced Monday as Heisman Trophy finalists.

The Heisman will be presented Saturday in New York, returning to its usual routine and date after it was forced to delay and go virtual last year.

After a season in which a Heisman front-runner took a while to emerge and the race seemed wide-open into November, Young closed strong to become the favorite.

The sophomore broke the Southeastern Conference championship game record with 421 yards passing in a victory against Georgia's vaunted defense on Saturday. He has thrown for 4,322 yards and 43 touchdowns with just four interceptions while guiding the Crimson Tide to the top-seed in the College Football Playoff.

Young could become Alabama's fourth Heisman winner, second consecutive, but first quarterback.

Last year Tide receiver DeVonta Smith won. Smith and broke a streak of four straight quarterbacks to win the Heisman. Since 2000, 17 quarterbacks have won.

Hutchinson would be the first defensive player to win the Heisman since Michigan's Charles Woodson in 1997. The last Michigan player to be a Heisman finalist also played defense, though not exclusively: defensive back Jabrill Peppers also played some offense and returned kicks when he finished fifth in 2016.

Hutchinson has 14 sacks, helping No. 2 Michigan earn its first playoff appearance and end an eight-game losing streak to rival Ohio State.

Pickett returned to Pitt for a fifth season in 2021, taking advantage of the NCAA's eligibility give-back for playing through the pandemic in 2020, and had a record-breaking year passing for 4,319 yards with 42 touchdowns to eclipse school marks and led the 13th-ranked Panthers to their first Atlantic Coast Conference title.

Stroud completed 71% of his passes for 3,862 yards and 38 touchdowns as the No. 7 Buckeyes finished 10-2 in his first season as a starter.


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