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Alabama in the Pros

Two best friends and Alabama alums to battle Sunday in NFL game

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (#9) and linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (#31) celebrate with a hug after the Crimson Tide defeats Kansas State in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Gary Cosby Jr. - USA Today Sports

Blood could not make them any closer.

One is from California, the other hails from Georgia, but one place brought them together. They understood football from the same perspective. They laughed together, cried together, won together, and lost together. Both saw what it took to win a College Football Playoff National Championship as freshmen at the University of Alabama. They became significant leaders and impactful starters as sophomores, leading the Crimson Tide to a Southeastern Conference Championship. Both were Heisman Trophy finalists, but one gave the school its first Heisman winner at the quarterback position. In their final game together, an emotional hug was shared at midfield at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans (La.) after the Allstate Sugar Bowl against Kansas State.

RELATED: Bryce Young named a team captain as a rookie QB for Panthers

Both came to Alabama as five-star prospects, and both were selected in the top three of the NFL Draft.

Bryce Young and Will Anderson shake hands following SEC Championship

Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The National Football League is about quarterbacks, but Sunday is about to give us two passionate friends on a grand stage.

Bryce Young and Will Anderson love and respect each other.

Anderson is the fire and Young is ice. They complemented each other for three seasons in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Now, they will respectfully compete against each other. Young leads the Carolina Panthers in a matchup with Anderson and the Houston Texans.

Young wants to deliver Carolina (0-6) to its first win of the season while Anderson seeks to help Houston to its fourth victory. 

Anderson, the lone two-time Unanimous All-American in Alabama history, spoke about the significance of going against his best friend to Texans’ reporters. He relishes the moment of competing against someone he greatly respects.

“It’s going to be a great challenge for us. Phenomenal player, it was great playing with him. We’re excited to play against him,'” Anderson said to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 News in Houston about the challenge of facing Young.

Several former Tide players will be on display as Carolina has Young and Bradley Bozeman while Houston has Anderson, John Metchie, Christian Harris, and Henry To’oto’o. DeMeco Ryans, a former Alabama linebacker, is the Texans’ head coach.

RELATED: WATCH: Will Anderson blows Miami Dolphins offensive lineman off the ball

We will see a jersey swap from Anderson and Young, and it will be memorable.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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