Get to Know… the Carolina Panthers’ Bryce Young

Get to Know… the Carolina Panthers’ Bryce Young

“This past year he was as good as having a coach on the field.”

The words of legendary University of Alabama coach Nick Saban showered praise on his star quarterback, Bryce Young, ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft. And the praise was deserved, as last month, the Carolina Panthers selected Young with the first overall pick.

“I’m super grateful for what’s happened in my past and for being selected where I was – but I know that doesn’t entitle me to anything,” Young said in his very first press conference as a Carolina Panther.

“It’s on me to prove myself, to show up every day and work, and earn the respect of the people around me.

“And that’s something I’m looking forward to starting to do.”

When he starts this journey, Panthers fans should be excited to have Young as the star of their team – mainly because of the past he referenced.

Attending high school in California, Young was named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year in 2019 after excelling at Mater Dei High School. Ranked as one of the best young players in the country, Young committed to play for the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide football program that same year.

In his first season in Alabama in 2020, Young was backup to future New England Patriots quarterback, Mac Jones. The team won the College National Championship that season, leading Jones to declare for the NFL Draft – and Young’s career well and truly took off.

The quarterback led Alabama to a 12-1 regular season in which he threw five touchdown passes in a game three times, broke the school’s single-game passing yardage record, and also defeated the University of Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl. For his incredible season, Young became the first Alabama quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy, a prestigious award presented to college football’s most outstanding player, and received a whole host of other accolades.

I’ve always been labelled as someone who’s not the prototype,” Young said in his Heisman acceptance speech.

“Being an African-American quarterback and being quote-unquote undersized and not being that prototype, I’ve always been ruled out and counted out.”

And even after yet another stellar season with the Alabama Crimson Tide, Young’s size once again came into question when he entered the 2023 NFL Draft – finishing his college career with 8,356 passing yards and 80 passing touchdowns.

Officially measuring 5’10” and weighing 204 lbs, some scouts were concerned Young may be unable to see certain passes due to the size of NFL defenders, and others worried he would struggle to withstand the physicality of the professional game. Regardless, he was still seen as the best quarterback in the draft, ahead of Ohio State University’s C.J. Stroud and the University of Florida’s Anthony Richardson.

The talent that won Young the Heisman Trophy prevailed in the end, as, after the Panthers traded four draft picks and wide receiver D.J. Moore to the Chicago Bears in exchange for the first overall pick, Carolina made Young the first University of Alabama player to be selected first overall in the common era of the NFL Draft.

Young’s calm demeanour served him well in college, helping him stay poised on the field in big pressure moments, and was one of the many traits singled out in the pre-draft process. It’s also serving him well off the field and in the post-draft process.

Reporters quizzed Young on his first day of rookie minicamp with the Panthers last Friday, and he responded to questions with a smile, taking each one in his stride. The quarterback feels like he’s proved doubters wrong throughout his career, although now, as the first overall pick, and the face of a franchise, he’s not just got to deal with doubters – but expectations as well.

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