For a Heisman Trophy that “nobody wanted to win,” Alabama quarterback Bryce Young sure looked happy to be the recipient Saturday night.

Young was all smiles as he lifted the trophy for the first time. The sophomore beat out Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud and Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett for the 87th Heisman.

Improbably, Young is the first Crimson Tide quarterback to hoist the Heisman. This is a position that has produced 3 Pro Football Hall of Famers — Joe Namath, Bart Starr and Kenny Stabler. Far more recently, it also produced 3 current NFL starters in Tua Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts and Mac Jones.

Though Young is the first Heisman-winning Bama QB, he surely won’t be the last. Indeed, this might not even be his last time as a Heisman winner.

Young will enter next year with an excellent opportunity to join Ohio State running back Archie Griffin as the only repeat Heisman winners in history.

Why Bryce Young is poised to win back-to-back Heismans

For years, Notre Dame quarterback was considered the position best aligned for winning the Heisman. Four Fighting Irish quarterbacks won the trophy in its first 30 years, and somehow that reputation lingered for at least another 30.

Alabama quarterback is now that premier position. And that reputation will remain as long as Nick Saban is coaching.

You may point out that this is quite a jump to conclusions when exactly 1 Crimson Tide quarterback has won the thing in 87 tries, bringing the position into a tie with University of Chicago running backs. But Young is the just guy who broke the ice. Things have been trending in this direction for years.

Tagovailoa was a Heisman finalist in 2018. Hurts made it to New York the following year, albeit as an Oklahoma quarterback because Tua’s play forced him out of Tuscaloosa. Jones was a finalist last year, only to lose out to the guy he threw to the most: wide receiver DeVonta Smith.

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Point is, this is the most prominent position at the most prominent program in college football. And Saban has evolved this into a pass-first program, making it far more likely we’ll see more Youngs churn out that assembly line than Mark Ingrams and Derrick Henrys.

In general, it may be a long time before we see another running back lifting the trophy that features a running back giving a stiff-arm. Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III was quite clearly the best offensive player in the Big Ten, yet couldn’t get more votes than Stroud. The pro-QB voting bias is real.

Things tilt further in Young’s favor when considering what he’ll be able to do next season.

Though he’s currently 12th on Bama’s career passing yardage list and 6th in touchdown passes, with a couple of Playoff games to enhance his stats he will have a chance to be No. 1 in both categories by the time the next round of Heisman voting takes place.

It’s debatable how much any of that should matter, but reality tells us voters love these kinds of narratives. Hutchinson was the only defensive player to make it to New York from a fine trio of potential candidates that included Alabama outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr. and Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis.

You could make arguments for any of the 3, but Hutchinson came with a heck of a hook — Michigan’s single-season sack leader. When you break a record that stood for 25 years, voters notice and reward the accomplishment.

The same could be said of Pickett’s candidacy. Yes, he unquestionably deserved to be there. Behind Young, there wasn’t a better quarterback this season. But if Pickett hadn’t spent this season breaking the school records of a guy named Dan Marino, would voters have been smart enough to realize it?

Chase Young’s name recognition and Alabama’s brand recognition, combined with a bevy of potential history-breaking moments, will make it extremely difficult for anyone to knock him off the pedestal.

The hurdles for a Young repeat

Perhaps the biggest hurdle facing Young’s reelection campaign is the same that Mac Jones dealt with a year ago — his own teammate.

Anderson was the top vote-getter among candidates not invited to New York City. Like Young, he’ll be back next season. And though he has an uphill battle, this season gives hope that the electorate is growing more receptive to deserving defensive playmakers.

Hutchinson made it this far pretty much coming out of the blue. Anderson will go into next year with the most preseason Heisman hype of any defensive player since Ndamukong Suh in 2009.

And of course there’s the fact Young isn’t the only finalist from this season who might make it back next year. If Ohio State is in the same position as Alabama next season — the No. 1 seed heading into the College Football Playoff — Stroud will be the heavy favorite.

With top targets Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson likely in the NFL next year, Stroud will be challenged to repeat this season’s numbers. But it’s not as if the Buckeyes are ever hurting for talent at receiver. Jameson Williams, who was Young’s top receiver this year, transferred out of a very deep Ohio State receiving room because he was only 4th in the pecking order.

Stroud will have new dudes at his disposal. And with the transfer portal always open, he might even find a savvy veteran in the bunch who could help put him over the top.

The voter factor

Griffin is the only repeat Heisman winner for a multitude of reasons. Among them? Voter fatigue.

It certainly worked against the past 2 players who entered a season similarly poised to defend their Heisman: Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston.

Granted, most Manziel and Winston fatigue related to off-field shenanigans and criminal allegations. Young can presumably avoid these troubles.

And that means we should get used to the sight of Bryce Young on the Heisman stage.

Cover photo via Twitter @HeismanTrophy