Alabama’s Young embraces expectations, says not distractions

Sports

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) rolls out on a passing drill during the NCAA college football team’s practice Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young has made lucrative deals before starting his first college game, but he doesn’t think that or the preseason hype surrounding him will be a distraction.

To Young, the “culture” that Nick Saban has created for the program won’t allow it.

“I think really it says a lot about Alabama, and it’s honestly not too hard with the coaching that we have,” Young said Thursday. “Coach Saban from Day 1 when all the external stuff started to pop up — and it’s been going on for a while with there being whatever distractions there may be — that’s something we preach a lot about making sure we keep the main thing the main thing.

“We’ve talked a lot about that in-house, and that’s something that we live by.”

Young spoke via Zoom in his first interview with reporters since arriving in Tuscaloosa as the country’s top dual-threat quarterback prospect in the class of 2020.

Saban said in July that Young already had received nearly seven figures’ worth of name, image and likeness deals. The sophomore from California is set to replace Heisman Trophy finalist Mac Jones at quarterback when the Crimson Tide open Sept. 4 against Miami in Atlanta.

Other than mop-up duties, Young hadn’t been seen all that much by Alabama fans before the spring game.

Then he showed off his athleticism and arm, passing for 333 yards and a 59-yard touchdown to tight end Cameron Latu.

The next game he suits up for will be real. Even while replacing Jones — and despite the Tide losing four other first-round NFL draft picks from the offense — Young will lead a team picked preseason No. 1 and favored to repeat as national champions.

He’s OK with those expectations after leading high school powerhouse Mater Dei in Santa Ana, California, where he took over for current Georgia starter JT Daniels.

“There obviously are expectations, but regardless of what happened in high school or any past experiences I’ve had, coming to Bama is where you come for pressure and come for expectations,” Young said. “Everyone here when they signed on the dotted line and decided to come here, we knew it was going to come with expectations.

“Saban sets that standard for us immediately during recruiting and when we step into the building, so it’s not something I was blindsided by.”

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