NEW ORLEANS — Jalen Milroe hardly recorded any stats during Alabama’s Sugar Bowl win Saturday. However, the backup quarterback did play a part in the loudest cheer of the game.
Midway through the fourth quarter of Alabama’s 45-20 drubbing of Kansas State State, Milroe trotted onto the field to relieve Bryce Young, giving the starting quarterback the opportunity to take a curtain cal in front of the Alabama faithful one final time.
Making his way to the huddle, Milroe met Young at the Alabama 25-yard line, giving him a high-five before embracing him for a moment. From there, Young left the field to a standing ovation from Crimson Tide fans for his final send-off before making his way to the NFL next spring.
Milroe knew the ceremonial passing of the torch was coming at some point, but even he had a hard time holding back his emotions on the field.
“There were definitely teary eyes for sure because that’s my brother,” Milroe said after the game. “We have a relationship beyond football, so just to have that moment with him one final time just meant a lot to me.”
Young earned MVP honors in his final Alabama appearance, completing 15 of 21 passes for 321 yards and five touchdowns. The former Heisman Trophy winner hasn’t announced his professional decision, but it’s all but certain he’ll enter next year’s NFL Draft where he is projected as the No. 1 overall pick in April.
Milroe has a busy few months ahead of him as well. The redshirt freshman now finds himself in a four-man quarterback competition as he’ll battle with freshman Ty Simpson as well as signees Eli Holstein and Dylan Lonergan to fill Young’s starting spot next fall. When asked about the competition Saturday, Milroe said that “everything is in God’s hands,” stating that he plans on spending the next few months focusing on improvement for both himself and the team.
“Overall, just get 1% better each and every day,” Milroe said. “Just collab with the team, just find our identity and just come together as a team and enjoying each day we have together.”
Milroe appeared in eight games this season, completing 58.4% of his passes for 297 yards and three interceptions while adding 265 yards and another score on the ground. After filling in for an injured Young during the second half of Alabama’s win over Arkansas, he earned his first start the following week against Texas A&M. Milroe completed 12 of 19 passes for 111 yards and three touchdowns with an interception while adding 81 more yards with his feet during his lone start, leading the Crimson Tide to 24-20 victory over the Aggies.
“There’s more in my toolbox than I can learn from,” Milroe said. “Just building and making each of my strengths stronger and any weaknesses, just turn them into strengths.”
Young spoke highly of both Milroe and Simpson last month, stating that he feels confident in whoever his successor will be at Alabama.
“There’s been a lot of growth in the meeting room, a lot of growth when it comes to reading and processing, and growth physically too,” he said. “I’ve been able to see firsthand just how much better they’ve both been since they first stepped foot here on campus. I have a tremendous amount of confidence in everyone in that room. Just to really see the progression, I’m blessed to be part of that room. Those are guys I’m really close with, as well. So I have all the confidence in the world in those guys.”
As for what Milroe was able to sponge off the departing starter, he said he’s learned a lot from Young both on and off the field.
“Just who he is as a person, his work ethic,” Milroe said. “Just his time in the film [room] and just him as a player overall. He has a unique talent, and I loved watching Bryce and learning from him.”