By Otis Kirk
FAYETTEVILLE — Nick Saban has had first-round picks and Heisman Trophy winners while at Alabama while also having the national championship rings to show for it all.
But in quarterback Bryce Young and linebacker Will Anderson it’s obvious that Saban has an elite player on both sides of the ball. Both Young and Anderson are juniors. Saban was asked if he has ever had two elite football players back on each side of the ball like that pair?
“Well, I don’t like to compare players, but to have two players that make such a significant impact on our team as those two guys, I don’t recall ever having a circumstance like that,” Saban said. “We’ve had some great impact players, but never one on offense, one on defense, of the caliber that these guys have been able to play on a consistent basis.
“But I think probably bigger than that is the impact that they have on the players around them. These guys set a great example. They’re players that other people on our team can emulate in a positive way because of the example that they set. These guys are very serving to their teammates in terms of they really do care about helping other people for their benefit. So these guys have not only been great players, they’ve
contributed from a leadership standpoint probably as significantly as any leaders that we’ve had – and we’ve had some really good leaders in our program and organization. Really excited about having these guys on our team. You couldn’t ask for two better people. I’ve always said that when the best players on your team are really good people with great attitude and great mindset, it’s really helpful to developing the type of team chemistry you need to have a successful team.”
Young talked about what he feels is the one thing about him that he wants everyone to know.
“The most important thing is that I am a man of faith,” Young said. “I feel like that’s most important in my
life, and that’s what guides my actions.”
Before Saban arrived to coach the Tide they had never had a Heisman Trophy winner. Young won it last year and is back this season. Saban feels the success of the program has led to some individual awards for his players.
“I think it kind of goes both ways,” Saban said. “I think the success that the program has had probably lends itself to more attention that our players get, whether it’s to make All-American or win national awards like the Outland Trophy or the Nagurski or the Heisman or whatever it is.
“Because these guys all were great players and had great seasons on a very successful team that got a lot of national exposure and recognition, their performance was rewarded, their positive performance was rewarded because they got a lot of exposure because the success the team had. I think it kind of goes both ways in terms of players being recognized.”
Anderson also talked about how he wants to be remembered at Alabama.
“I just what to show that I am a great leader,” Anderson said. “I love my teammates. I am very supportive. I
am very positive, very energized, and always have a smile on my face. I want to leave a great legacy at The University of Alabama.”
Alabama will be in Fayetteville on Saturday, Oct. 1, to take on the Razorbacks. The Tide won this game 42-35 on November 20 in Tuscaloosa last season. Arkansas hasn’t defeated Alabama since taking a 24-23 two-overtime win in 2006 in Razorback Stadium.