Bryce Young achieves lifelong dream as first pick in 2023 NFL Draft

Bryce Young achieved a monumental feat and has something tangible to commemorate it. His life changed forever when he heard his name announced as the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft on April 27, fulfilling his long-standing ambition of playing professional football. Recalling the special moment of being picked as the first player by the Carolina Panthers, Young shared with PEOPLE that he kept a stub from the stage that he walked across.

“The draft was a very surreal moment for me,” he said. “It’s an experience that I’ll never forget.” Lowe’s, who helped construct the 2023 Draft stage, presented Young and other NFL rookies with a keepsake box that contained a portion of the stage to commemorate their transition into the NFL. The 21-year-old Pasadena-born quarterback expressed his gratitude for Lowe’s, saying, “I’m really thankful to be working with Lowe’s and appreciate what they’ve done for me and for all the rookies.”

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Young, who ended his senior season at the University of Alabama in January 2023, picked up a considerable number of accolades and records during his time there. He emerged as the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner, scoring 80 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 27 starts, making him the number one choice for the draft.

“This is the moment you have dreamed of all your life. So much has gone into it, and for it all to come together in that moment is unbelievable,” Young says as he recalls his first draft. He adds that there were various thoughts and feelings running through his head: “There was a lot of happiness. I was really proud. I just felt so humbled.”

He describes his transition into the NFL as a ‘passive dream,’ but emphasizes his focus on short-term goals, being process-oriented, and concentrating on the more tangible aspects that can be achieved daily. “And then, when you hear your name called and you know where you’re going… it’s something that’s real, it’s hard to put into words,” says the Alabama native who has had his sights fixed on football since he was a child.

“All the good things that come from it and all the blessings that come is a product of what’s happened during the past, but it doesn’t entitle me to anything in the future,” he added. Young, who has always been described as someone who is dedicatied to the principles of hard work and humility, shared that his mom Julie and Dad Craig Young were responsible for storing his memorabilia. “They keep all the prizes and stuff that are really important to us. They already have a location for it, so I believe it will be there,” he exclaimed.

Young’s contribution to Alabama and the NFL went beyond just his natural talent and dedication; he also engaged in philanthropy. Together with his mother, he launched the YoungLife Foundation, which is dedicated to helping youngsters from Pasadena get a better education and a better life. Young has also demonstrated leadership off the field and is currently serving as one of the youngest commissioners on the NFL’s Player Social Justice Council. It is believed that his background as a multi-racial man in the deep south, who leverages his platform for social causes, gives him the necessary credibility.

“This draft is a huge milestone for me,” says the football player, who is excited to take on the challenge of playing in the NFL. “The NFL is an incredibly competitive league and is the pinnacle of the sport I love.”

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“I am happy to be a part of this fraternity and can’t wait to represent the Carolina Panthers and all the people who have supported me on my journey,” he added. Young has reportedly already made a great impression on his teammates during the rookie’s minicamp, where he displayed both his physical abilities and his drive to excel.

There is a lot of expectation surrounding the rookie quarterback, who is being groomed as the next face of the Panthers franchise. However, Young is confident in his abilities and remains true to his process-oriented outlook. “I take things one detail at a time. I trust my training and give everything I have while I am out there. At the end of the day, it is not about what we say but what we do. I am grateful for every opportunity I have and will make the most of whatever circumstance I find myself in.”

“Alabama was a great experience for me. It was a place where I developed a love for football and where I honed my skills. I will always be a part of that brotherhood and have cherished memories from my time there,” he reminisced. Although he has left Alabama behind, Young has left an indelible impact on the college and the state alike.

Bryce’s achievements should serve as an inspiration not just to young athletes but to young people throughout America as a whole. With his dedication, hard work and humility, Young has not just redefined what it means to be a footballer, he has made us question our beliefs of what is possible and inspired us to better ourselves. He is a true representative of the American Dream and exemplifies the quintessential American spirit.

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