Alabama QB Bryce Young spoke with Boardroom about Nick Saban, NIL, his relationship with Steph Curry, and navigating social media.
University of Alabama quarterback Bryce Young exuded calm and confidence back in July at the ESPY awards in Hollywood, strutting down the red carpet in a maroon suit and diamond-encrusted Christian Louboutins on his feet.
The 2021 Heisman Trophy winner is the projected top overall pick in next year’s NFL Draft and appears poised to deliver the Crimson Tide their seventh national championship since 2009. The Tide fell short against Georgia in last season’s title game, Young’s first full season as a starter, in which he threw 47 touchdowns with just seven interceptions.
The 21-year-old Young knows he has all the tools to excel on and off the field. He’s an elite athlete with patience and poise, as well as obscene earning power in the world of NIL. Saturday marks ‘Bama’s first major test of the 2022 season — a nationally televised noon matchup in Austin against the University of Texas.
Before he took home the ESPY for best men’s college athlete, Young spoke with Boardroom about Nick Saban, NIL, his relationship with Steph Curry, and navigating social media with the whole world watching his every move.
SHLOMO SPRUNG: Are you ready for the pressure that’s coming your way this season at Alabama?
Bryce Young: Definitely. From the moment I stepped on the field, there was pressure, and I think there’s always that kind of pressure. It’s something that I don’t really shy away from, but at the same time it’s not something that I really rely on or need. For me, it’s all about becoming the best version of myself, doing what’s best for the team. There’s always going to be pressure, so I trust in myself, trust in the guys around me, and that’s what helps me get through it.
SS: What’s your relationship with Nick Saban like?
BY: I love Coach. Everyone kind of sees him yelling, him being aggressive, and what he says in the media, but people don’t know how much he cares about his players and how personable he can be behind closed doors when it’s just us and the team. I have a super great relationship with him.
SS: What was the first thing that surprised you when interacting with him?
BY: I think it was his sense of humor. You don’t really get to see it unless you play for him. You can ask any of the people who play for him now and played for him in the past. He definitely has a sense of humor. He’s always cracking jokes and, again, people don’t expect that. So that definitely surprised me.
SS: What’s your approach been in terms of getting all these NIL deals? Obviously, as the quarterback for Alabama, you’re going to get so many different opportunities.
BY: For me, it’s making sure that I have priorities and having things in order. I think it’s been a huge blessing to be able to have the opportunities that I’ve had business-wise off the field, but making sure that the main thing stays the main thing, and football stays first for me, and making sure that nothing goes above that. Keeping football first is definitely something that’s allowed me to navigate it.
SS: What was your biggest purchase with the NIL money you’ve gotten so far?
BY: Nothing huge, really. Just a lot of shoes, which I’m not too proud of. It’s an unhealthy habit that I’ve gotten into.
SS: What was the budget like for that?
BY: Nothing crazy. I feel like I have a relatively good amount of self-control. Shoes are the only place I lose it a little bit. It wasn’t like a crazy shopping spree. It’s been more like casual pickups over time.
SS: Has anyone reached out to you with a weird NIL offer?
BY: Nothing too crazy. Again, I have a team that can kind of filter that stuff out. So there probably have been some that they weeded out before it got to me. Nothing that I know of, though.
SS: How do you navigate social media with all these fans from Alabama, Auburn, NFL fans that want you on their team?
BY: Honestly, I’m not really on social media too heavy. I don’t know. It’s not something that’s a huge part of my life. Again, I feel like everyone who’s on social media or talking at home or watching TV, they have every right to believe what they want to believe, feel how they want to feel, and voice their opinions. But for me, it’s believing in what I believe in, doing my best to be the best for the guys around me, and that’s all I focus on.
SS: What’s the hardest thing in trying to balance your studies, playing football, and your NIL deals?
BY: That’s the big thing about college. You need to make sure you have balance. But for me, it’s about having great guys around me. I also have great parents, a great family, and having a good team that helps manage all that, really making sure that we can have priorities with things.
SS: Who’s your favorite athlete to watch in a different sport?
BY: Steph Curry.
SS: What advice has he given you during your interactions?
BY: When I’ve spoken with him, just to be true to myself, to remain humble, and to keep working. And seeing someone like Steph and obviously seeing the success that he’s had, for him to impart that wisdom on me, that was really, really huge and a really, really cool opportunity. Also seeing how he carries himself, knowing who he is, and being able to speak to him off camera, he’s just as humble. So it’s really cool.
SS: What’s the best investment you’ve made in the last year?
BY: This is probably not the conventional answer, but I think investing in myself. I think when you have the avenues to do so, doing whatever you feel like is best for you, believing in yourself, betting on yourself, that’s what I’ve prided myself on so I can be the best version of myself for my team, the people around me, and my family.
SS: What’s the one thing you wish you invested in over the last year but didn’t?
BY: If I could’ve gotten in on the whole Doge thing when everything was going [well], that would’ve been great. I feel like we all wish we could’ve made millions through that.
SS: At what point did you know you were going to be as successful as you are now?
BY: It’s definitely a daily thing. I don’t think for me it’s about looking toward the end goal. And it’s never been trying to get to this place or predicting where I’m going to be. It’s just trying to be the best version of myself each and every day. So for me honestly, there hasn’t been too much looking forward and trying to anticipate. It’s been about just trying to be the best at whatever I’m focused on at the time.