Bryce Young and Will Anderson Jr., two stars on Alabama’s 2022 Sugar Bowl-winning roster, appeared ready to take the next steps in their football careers and declared for the NFL Draft on Monday.
Young and Anderson chose to play in the Sugar Bowl and helped the Crimson Tide top Kansas State 45-20 on Saturday. Alabama failed to make it to the College Football Playoff after dropping two games during the regular season. Neither player needed to participate in the game but did so anyway.
Young, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2021, was 15-of-21 with 321 passing yards and five touchdown passes in the win. Anderson, who is a two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year and two-time Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner, played in the game against the Wildcats but did not record any stats.
Running back Jahmyr Gibbs also announced he was leaving school to enter the NFL Draft. Gibbs had 76 rushing yards against Kansas State. He added two catches for 66 yards as well.
Young and Anderson are expected to be off the board early come the 2023 draft – at least according to early projections.
Young finished the season with 3,328 passing yards and 32 touchdown passes. He missed some time due to an injury in the middle of the season. Anderson racked up 51 tackles, 10 sacks and an interception during the season. Both players are juniors but have graduated early.
“I’m very proud of the way these guys have represented the program, not only the way they played on the field but the kind of character as people, the academic success that they’ve had,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said.
“These guys showed tremendous leadership and character to make a decision to play in the Sugar Bowl, which I think impacted the entire team with the example that they set.”
Some early mock drafts have had Young go No. 1 to the Houston Texans while others have Anderson at the top spot. Both are seen as potential top-five selections.
Gibbs could be a late first-round selection or even fall to the second round. Bijan Robinson is considered to be one of the best running backs in the upcoming draft class.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.