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Bryce Young's confidence, poise stand out at Alabama pro day

Bryce Young

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – If there was a concern about Bryce Young's dedication to football, his father would be the first to dispute it.

Last summer, Craig Young planned to surprise his son with a family vacation to Hawaii. But Bryce, just after winning the Heisman Trophy for his sophomore season, already had himself booked with training for the next year at Alabama.

He wouldn't make the trip, but his father couldn't be mad. The proud grin across his face while he told the story during Alabama's pro day workouts Thursday said it all.

"I took a step back, and I was like, you know what? This is how dedicated he is to his craft, and the ability to delay gratification for the ultimate reward," Craig Young said. "I just begrudgingly admired it. I was like, 'OK, we'll send you some pictures if you want.'"

The story's just one example of the type of steady commitment Bryce Young has shown throughout his time leading the Crimson Tide for two seasons. He compiled a 23-4 record as Alabama's primary signal-caller, winning an SEC championship and reaching the national championship once as the first-string quarterback.

He's had that level of maturity for as long as his father can remember, as he was placed into leadership positions with high expectations early in life, learning how to balance emotions and confidence.

It's been on display throughout the draft process as Young heads in as one of the consensus top quarterbacks. And the Panthers are interested, as they are in all four. Carolina rolled deep once again Thursday, bringing the same entourage that attended Ohio State's pro day one day before to see Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud.

The night before Young's pro day, Fitterer said a group of "seven or eight" Panthers personnel surrounded him at the center of a table. They discussed Young's life on and off the field — he ordered the scallops and a salad — and they left impressed with his poise.

Josh McCown, Frank Reich, Bryce Young

"He held court," Fitterer said. "He was so well-spoken, so well thought-out. When he talked about his preparation, when he talked about how he studies, how he sees the game, he's at a different level. He's already at that NFL level, which is great to see.

"Nothing's too big for him. Like, he can walk into any environment and be in total control. At 21 years old, if I walked into a restaurant, sat around with a bunch of 40, 50-year-old men, it'd be a little intimidating. Instead, he just sat there and asked us questions. We asked him questions. … Just a really, really solid person."

Owners David and Nicole Tepper, Fitterer and assistant GM Dan Morgan, vice president of football administration Samir Suleiman, head coach Frank Reich, senior offensive assistant Jim Caldwell, offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, and quarterbacks coach Josh McCown were also among the group watching Young throw to his college teammates Thursday afternoon in Alabama.

The Hank Crisp Indoor Facility had been filled with chatter before Young's workout, including a 10-minute conversation between Reich and Young on the field.

But the room fell silent as Young began to throw passes intending to "show (his) diversity" to scouts and front-office members. Young said he looked to show off intermediate and short-range passes, on-platform and off-platform throws, and some work from under center, to "check all the boxes."

"Thought he was very fluid, very poised," Fitterer said following Young's workout. "Ball came out of his hand nice and easy — plenty of arm strength. I think, overall, he managed to do well.

"Saw a lot of good things out of him. Very in control, very poised. It's just like you thought it would be. I know I heard comments around me, like, 'Hey, his arm is better in person than I thought,' (from) coaches that had only seen tape. That's from other teams, but it's always good to hear things like that."

Taylor Kelly has seen it, for years.

The offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California, Kelly has coached Young since eighth grade and came out to help prepare Young for his workout last Monday. Kelly was impressed with his throws, but said it was "no surprise" to a coach who has known him for more than a decade.

And that's why he was one of Young's strongest advocates for being selected with the first overall pick in this year's draft.

"The kid's special," Kelly said. "He's going to be an offensive coordinator's dream, as far as staying in the building late, working hard. He loves the game of football. He's an amazing leader. That's the biggest thing that, I would say, his attributes are – how he can relate to the team, build that camaraderie, and hold the locker room together. He's an even better human being off the field."

Young didn't feel the need to speak specifically on his own reasoning for being selected first overall. Instead, he expressed a level of gratitude for the people he has met with and said he'd let what he has done speak for itself.

"I don't have an argument; I try to be myself," Young said. "I want to present myself in the best light, but ultimately, I don't control why I'm picked, who picks me. I'll be grateful for whatever team does take a chance on me.

"But for me, I try to focus on what I can show. I try to let the meetings, the interviews, the film, and what I did today speak for itself. You know, that's really all I can control."

And that's another example of what he's been showing since childhood – his father said Bryce was a natural leader at 5 years old when he used to help organize his kindergarten-aged teammates and direct them on which way to run.

They're traits that are hard to teach, and special to find.

"He's very internally motivated, intrinsically motivated to perform, and to perform at high standards, as a representation of his faith and for his family," Craig Young said. "I think that maturity comes from having been thrust into a leadership position very early and having high expectations early. He's had to learn how to kind of manage that. …

"With maturity is confidence, and I think he also has a lot of confidence in his ability."

View photos from Alabama as Bryce Young worked out for NFL coaches and staffs at his pro day.

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