Three Heisman Trophy winners are celebrated at Mater Dei

Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young poses under the updated Heisman Lane sign at Mater Dei.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

It was a historic day Tuesday morning in Santa Ana, the bringing together of three quarterbacks from Mater Dei High who won the Heisman Trophy.

Mater Dei went all out to make it a celebration to remember.

The entire student body watched from the bleachers of the Meruelo Athletic Center. There were posters, videos, red rally towels, an updated Heisman Lane sign, a new trophy case and a podium for John Huarte (Mater Dei Class of 1961), Matt Leinart (2001) and Bryce Young (2020) to be honored with speeches from coach Bruce Rollinson and former president Patrick Murphy.

It was a “once a Monarch, always a Monarch love fest,” with Rollinson receiving vocal support in the face of ongoing scrutiny regarding allegations of locker room misconduct involving the football program.


“I think today shows you that those accusations have unfortunately no merit,” Rollinson said afterward in answering a reporter’s question. “This is what Mater Dei and Bruce Rollinson represent.”

Bryce Young, from left, John Huarte and Matt Leinart pose for a photo at Mater Dei High.
Mater Dei High’s Heisman Trophy winners, from left, Bryce Young, John Huarte and Matt Leinart, pose for a photo Tuesday morning.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Leinart, 39, gave an unequivocal endorsement to Rollinson. His son, Cole, will be a freshman in the fall at Mater Dei. “I told him I need four more years of motivational pep talks,” Leinart said.

New school President Michael Brennan also confirmed Rollinson has his confidence.

“He has given his entire life to this school,” Brennan said. “I love coach Rollinson, too, and am happy he’s our head coach.”

Mater Dei unveiled its updated Heisman Lane campus sign that added Bryce Young's name.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Young transferred from L.A. Cathedral and spent two seasons playing for Mater Dei before heading off to Alabama.


Alabama assistant coach Bill O’Brien said people ask him repeatedly what makes Young so special. O’Brien said it’s the qualities Young possesses — high intelligence, humility, work ethic, preparedness, great teammate, coachable.

Young’s father, Craig, created an emotional moment telling the audience how proud he is. Bryce grew up in Pasadena, wasn’t the tallest athlete but found a way to master the quarterback position while retaining his humility and belief in his faith and family.

“It was a journey to get here,” Craig Young said. “What he means to me is I could not ask for a better son.”

Bryce Young continues to take in all the experiences of being a Heisman Trophy winner.

“It’s still surreal for me,” he said.

Addressing students, former players and Mater Dei dignitaries, Young said, “This is a huge honor. I could not be here without my teammates in high school and college.”