Alabama football has no shortage of talent on its roster heading into the 2022 season.
From the edge to the back end of the defense to the offensive skill players, the Crimson Tide's roster can compete with anyone. Only one of those talented players will be named MVP, though.
The award isn't won in the preseason, of course. How each plays over the course of the season will answer the question of who's most valuable. But in the spirit of talking season, here's an early look at five preseason candidates for the award — and my prediction:
QB Bryce Young
Let's start with an obvious one. Young is not only the returning MVP for Alabama but also the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. He just added to his list of accolades Wednesday, being named the SEC's male athlete of the year. The quarterback is usually in discussions for any MVP award because of the importance of the position, but Young takes that to another level. His ability to make plays and find the best option are among the elements that make him valuable. That isn't likely to change in 2022.
LB Will Anderson Jr.
OK, let's get one more easy one out of the way. As perhaps the best college football player in the country, Anderson has the ability to disrupt every game off the edge of the defense. Anderson finished with 34.5 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks in 2021. And much like Young, the defense will go as Anderson goes. He's not only a returning captain but a vocal leader. If Alabama is back in the College Football Playoff championship, Anderson will be a significant part of that.
RB Jahmyr Gibbs
The hype around Gibbs is palpable. The 75-yard touchdown in the A-Day spring game certainly contributed to that. And there's no reason he can't meet or even exceed the hype. If the former Georgia Tech running back can live up to the high expectations, he could be a game-changer throughout the season for Alabama's offense. He has the ability to be a serious threat in the passing and rushing game.
WR Jermaine Burton
Alabama has plenty of production to replace at receiver with Jameson Williams, John Metchie III and Slade Bolden gone to the NFL. Burton is expected to be at the front of the line to fill that void, with Saban praising him during spring practices. The departures provide a prime opportunity for Burton to assert himself as most valuable, but it would take a remarkable year for him to win the award. Still, if he can be Young's go-to receiver in big moments, Burton will have to be part of the conversation.
DB Jordan Battle
Consider him a bit of a dark-horse candidate. Getting the senior safety back was significant for Alabama. He could have gone to the NFL draft but decided to stay for one more season. Battle missed only 8.5% of his tackle attempts this past season, per Pro Football Focus. That ranked 17th among Alabama defenders, one of the lowest of any regular starters. He also allowed a catch rate of 57.6%, fourth lowest among Alabama players with at least 100 snaps. Battle's value to Alabama's defense is notable.
15 SEASONS OF NICK SABAN: Celebrate Nick Saban's 15 epic seasons at Alabama football with our special book!
Projecting that Young will be Alabama's MVP might be easy, but that doesn't mean it's wrong. So, I'm going to pick Young.
Even if he doesn't join Archie Griffin as the only two-time Heisman winners in history, he's still in a good spot to win the team's MVP award. He spent most of his month off in May working to get stronger and fine-tune his game with trainer Taylor Kelly. It's quite possible Young is even better this season. Plus, he can make a statement if he has a similar season with an almost entirely different group of skill players.
Anderson could very well be in MVP contention with another monster season, but I'll give my preseason guess to the returning Heisman winner. History is on the side of that happening. Alabama's MVP award has gone to a quarterback in three of the past four seasons.
Nick Kelly covers Alabama football and men's basketball for The Tuscaloosa News, part of the USA TODAY Network. Reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly
This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Who will be Alabama football's MVP in 2022? Here's my prediction