coach Nick Saban confirmed to reporters Friday night that quarterback Bryce Young and linebacker Will Anderson will play in the Sugar Bowl on December 31 rather than opt out to prepare for the NFL draft.
The Crimson Tide, in fact, had no players opt out of the bowl game, according to Saban.
Young is projected to be the No.1 overall pick in the 2023 draft, and Anderson, considered among the best defensive prospects available, is expected to be a high selection as well.
Alabama quarterback Bryce Young is widely expected to be drafted No.1 in the 2023 NFL Draft
Will Anderson (right) will also go high in the draft, but will first play for Alabama in their bowl
More players in recent years have chosen to sit out bowl games to protect their bodies and, in turn, their draft stock.Saban framed Young’s and Anderson’s decisions as team-first moves.
‘I think it sets a great example for guys that respect their teammates,’ Saban said, ‘want to be a part of their team, know the impact that they can make, the value that they can make, that they can create for themselves by playing well against good competition.
‘I’m extremely proud of these guys.We’re gonna support them in every way that we can.’
Young has confirmed he will play on New Year’s Eve in the Sugar Bowl, rather than opting out
Anderson was previously tipped to be a No.1 pick and has tallied 51 tackles so far this season
and finished No.5 in the College Football Playoff rankings, the first team out of the playoff field. The Crimson Tide will face Big 12 champion Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl.
Young, the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner, has followed up a breakout season by completing 64.1 percent of his passes for 3,007 yards, 27 touchdowns and five interceptions thus far.
Anderson, news at one point considered the likely No.1 draft pick in 2023, has tallied 51 tackles, 10 sacks and a pick-6 this season.