Prior to the 2004 college football season, the Manning Award was created by the Allstate Sugar Bowl in honor of the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning. It is the only college football quarterback award that includes the candidates’ bowl performances in its balloting; therefore, it is presented annually following the completion of the bowl season.
Alabama sophomore Bryce Young was selected as the 2021 winner of the Manning Award, presented by the Allstate Sugar Bowl to the top quarterback in the nation. Young is the second straight Crimson Tide quarterback to win the honor, following Mac Jones’ recognition for the 2020 season.
The Manning Award, now in its 17th year, was created by the Allstate Sugar Bowl to honor the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning. It is the only quarterback award that takes into consideration the candidates’ bowl and playoff performances in its balloting. The award is voted on by a panel of local and national media, as well as each of the Mannings.
“Congratulations to Bryce Young on being selected as the winner of the 18th annual Manning Award,” said Archie Manning. “It’s quite a challenge to replace an All-American quarterback on a national championship team; and Bryce answered that challenge with a tremendous season. Nearly 5,000 passing yards, almost 50 touchdowns, the SEC Offensive Player of the Year and the Heisman Trophy. Not to mention leading Alabama back to the national championship game. I’m not sure what he can do for an encore but we sure are excited to have him back in college football next year.
“On behalf of the entire Manning family, we would like to once again thank the Sugar Bowl Committee for its generous and ongoing support of the Manning Award. The Bowl’s role in making this award possible each year is greatly appreciated.”
Young, a native of Pasadena, Calif., was sensational in his first season as the Crimson Tide starting quarterback. He set the Alabama single-season marks for passing yards (4,872) and passing touchdowns (47) and was the recipient of the Heisman Trophy as well as being named college football’s Player of the Year by the Associated Press and The Sporting News. He also collected the Maxwell Award as college football’s top player while being named First Team All-America by the Associated Press, the Football Writers Association of America and The Sporting News.
“It’s a tremendous honor to work with Archie and the Manning family in presenting this award each year,” said Sugar Bowl CEO Jeff Hundley. “In Bryce Young we get to recognize a great quarterback and a fine young man. We’ll look forward to seeing him in New Orleans soon.”
Alabama entered the 2021 season with significant question marks on the offensive side of the ball, having graduated eight starters, including the Manning Award-winning Jones at quarterback, three offensive linemen and a pair of All-American receivers, including DeVonta Smith, the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner.
However, with Young under center, the Tide rolled to a second straight appearance in the College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship game. In the season opener against Miami, Young set the school record for most passing touchdowns in a starting debut with four. Alabama rolled through the regular season, posting an 11-1 record and advancing to the SEC Championship. In the conference title game, Young completed 26-of-44 passes for 421 yards and three touchdowns in a victory over top-ranked Georgia, which came into the game with the No. 1 rated defense in the country. He added another strong performance in a CFP Semifinal victory over Cincinnati before Georgia gained revenge on the Tide in the national title game.
Other finalists for this year’s Manning Award were: Brennan Armstrong (Virginia), Matt Corral (Ole Miss), Sam Hartman (Wake Forest), Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh), Desmond Ridder (Cincinnati), Will Rogers (Mississippi State), Carson Strong (Nevada), C.J. Stroud (Ohio State) and Bailey Zappe (Western Kentucky).
In its first 18 years, the Manning Award has recognized the top names in college football. It has honored quarterbacks from 13 different schools and from four different conferences. The Southeastern Conference (Young, Joe Burrow, Jones, Johnny Manziel, Cam Newton, JaMarcus Russell and Tim Tebow) leads the way with seven Manning Award honorees, while the Big 12 Conference (Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield, Vince Young, Colt McCoy and Robert Griffin III) has had five winners. The Atlantic Coast Conference (Deshaun Watson twice, Matt Ryan and Jameis Winston) has had four Manning Award winners. Alabama (Young and Jones) joins LSU (Burrow and Russell), Oklahoma (Murray and Mayfield) and Texas (McCoy and Young) as the only schools with two different winners.
Statistically, the Manning Award has seen a wide-range of quarterbacks. Fifteen of the Manning Award men threw for over 3,000 yards in their winning campaign, including 4,000-yard seasons from Burrow, Griffin III, Jones, Marcus Mariota, Mayfield, Murray, Ryan, Watson (twice), Winston and Bryce Young. On the other hand, Manziel, Murray, Newton, Watson (in 2015) and Young were all 1,000-yard rushers during their Manning years.
Perhaps most impressive among the statistics of the quarterbacks recognized by the Manning Award is touchdowns scored. Thirteen of the winners accounted for over 40 touchdowns during their successful seasons – Burrow’s 65 touchdowns (60 passing, five rushing) broke Mariota’s record (58 in 2014) for touchdowns by a Manning Award winner.One of the more unique aspects of the Manning Award is the fact that it takes account of the quarterbacks’ bowl performances, in addition to the regular season. Fifteen of the 18 Manning Award winners won bowl games during the season they won the honor. Thirteen Manning Award honorees led their teams to the CFP Semifinals or a BCS Championship game appearance (Burrow, Jones, Matt Leinart, Mariota, Mayfield, McCoy, Murray, Newton, Tebow, Watson, Winston and both Bryce and Vince Young). Eight won national championships (Burrow, Jones, Leinart, Newton, Tebow, Watson, Winston and Vince Young).
Previous Manning Award winners have also factored prominently in the NFL Draft as they all heard their names called on Draft Day. Six honorees were selected No. 1 overall (Burrow, Mayfield, Murray, Newton, Russell and Winston), while four others went No. 2 or No. 3 (Griffin, Mariota, Ryan and Vince Young).
All the Manning Award winners follow in the footsteps of the Mannings themselves. In college, Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning combined for over 25,000 passing yards and 201 touchdowns while playing in 10 bowl games and earning four bowl MVP awards. Archie was the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft, while both Peyton and Eli were selected No. 1 overall.