Anderson May Brush Off Heisman Talk, But He Deserves a Shot
Awarded annually to the most outstanding college football player in the United States by the Heisman Trust.
That's what the plaque on the base of sports' most prestigious individual award says. Although a handful of players get first-place votes for the award every year, more often than not, there's little argument against most winners' validity.
Make no mistake, if Bryce Young continues his consistent, stellar play through the remainder of the season and becomes the first Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback to win the award, not many fans or analysts will bat an eye. Young is, after all, the best performing quarterback in the country.
But is he the best player?
Sure there's a strong argument to be made in his favor, There's no denying that Young is deserving of the honor.
But so does his teammate, Will Anderson.
Anderson has the odds stacked against him. Literally. He's +8,000 per Caesers. Oklahoma quarterback Caleb Williams, who took over the starting job for the Sooners and was benched last week against Baylor, has twice the odds. Twice.
The fact of the matter remains that the offensive talent in college football this year is not what it has been in years past. Behind Bryce Young (+180) is: CJ Stroud (+280), an Ohio State quarterback who has struggled with consistency all year, Matt Corral (+700), the banged-up Ole Miss QB whose Rebels have lost two games and Kenneth Walker III (+280), the Michigan State runner who's appeared special at times, but an early fumble led to an unacceptable loss to Purdue.
Every other candidate is +2,500 or worse. Those are just betting odds, and don't directly represent the minds of the nearly 1,000 voters for the award.
That's why it's important for the entirety of the Alabama Crimson Tide football program, fanbase, media and all to acknowledge his credibility as a candidate for the award. It's worked, as just a few weeks ago Anderson didn't even have odds. +8,000 isn't good, but it's something. A respectable, start at the least.
Anderson and his teammates have been asked about his place in the race. As any good teammate would, they all endorse him.
DB, Malachi Moore:
"He’s very deserving of that award in my opinion. I feel like this season Will has just continued to separate himself from the season he had last year. Every week, and every day really, he continues to get better and better. He doesn’t let it affect him though. He doesn't let the outside noise affect them. And he goes to work every day like he has a chip on his shoulder."
DL, DJ Dale:
"I mean, his name is not coming up for no reason. I feel like he deserves to be there, but I know Will. He’s just going to work. He’s not really worried about it. Will is great and he’s amazing to play with.”
WR, Jameson Williams:
"I’ve been at Ohio State, I’ve seen Chase Young, but Will Anderson, oh yeah, he’s for real. I feel like he deserves everything that is being brought to him, Heisman talk, whatever it is. Will, he goes hard. He deserves it. Every day at practice, he’s a leader for the team. He talks to other guys during practice. Everything is well-deserved for Will. So if Heisman talk is one of those talks, I feel like he most definitely deserves it."
Anderson says himself, humbly, he's just focused on winning a national championship. That's the right attitude to have at Alabama. Focus on the team first and the individual awards will come.
Still, Anderson's stats have been top tier. He leads the nation in sacks at 12.5 through 10 games, putting him in a position to have a higher sack total than the 15 Chase Young had in 2019. He also leads the country in tackles for loss with 23 (according to Alabama's statistics) and is in line to break the recognized record for TFLs at 32, held by Northern Illinois's Jason Babin.
The argument that the flashy offensive stats from the best teams leaning toward the offensive candidates doesn't hold weight this year. Bryce Young's stats are incredible, but do they boggle the mind? Is his play so much more electric than his counterpart?
Or is he just easier to see?
Sure, quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers (finally) are easier to see for these voters, but they aren't always the best players in the sport. Defensive players are easier to avoid, and so their game-by-game impact can be minimalized.
The electric stats, the electric play, the domination, it all comes from Alabama's top defensive player.
Plain and simple, Anderson is outstanding. The most outstanding. He meets the criteria etched into the trophy itself.
Where Ndamukong Suh and Chase Young fell short, Will Anderson is in a space to reverse the trend and give the award to the rightful player. Hopefully in back-to-back seasons where non-traditional positions win the award college football can make a little more sense. Because if Anderson doesn't at least go to New York, there's something really wrong.