Alabama Counting On AJ And C.J.

Over the past five years at Alabama, Coach Nick Saban's relationship with quarterback AJ McCarron has flourished, and he's understandably happy to have a fifth-year senior quarterback at the helm. "We have a wonderful quarterback who has developed and become a very good leader on our team," Saban said at SEC Media Days in Hoover Thursday. added that McCarron's role could expand.



"We have some skill players at wide receiver who have become very productive, so we may have a little different kind of team," Alabama Coach Nick Saban said.

That's fine with McCarron, but he made it clear he's not a stats guy.

"I feel like the numbers and the tape speak for themselves," upcoming fifth-year Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron said, surrounded by a horde of reporters. "I want to be remembered as a guy that did everything right, the way it's supposed to be done."

McCarron recalled a time when he was new on campus, wanting to compete for playing time, and Saban had him run the third team offense during a scrimmage. Basically it was McCarron and a group of mostly-walk-ons against the likes of future NFL players Rolando McClain and Dont'a Hightower.

McCarron said, "After practice, I ran up to Coach Saban's office to complain about not being able to show him what I could do because of playing with the third team. He told me, ‘Today was a test of your leadership, and you failed.' Now, I think the same way he thinks. I try to be on the same page with him all the time.

"Coach Saban means the world to me. He's is like my second dad. I'd trust him with my life."

That works both ways, at least when it comes to the life of Saban's Alabama football program.

"Coach Saban is not around us during the summer," McCarron said. "He expects us (team) leaders to run the program right."

Part of that "running the program" includes directing the daily seven-on-seven skeleton pass drills, a chore always handled by Tide quarterbacks through the years. That's one reason McCarron chose not to attend Wednesday nights ESPY awards in Los Angeles, where Alabama was nominated for Best Team.

"I'm busy trying to get my teammates ready to play the best they can play," he said.

McCarron added that he's been impressed during those skeleton drills by freshmen receivers O.J. Howard and Raheem Falkins, particularly the latter. "That (Falkins) kid, he's tall, he can get off the ground," said McCarron. "Both those guys have great height and really strong hands."

Senior guard Anthony Steen said true freshmen Derrick Henry at running back and Grant Hill at guard have caught his eye.

Saban said leadership will be paramount on a defense that lost four starters, and it starts with his top linebacker, senior C.J. Mosley. "He's had a great spring and we think he'll have a great season. Just because you're a great player doesn't mean you'll be a great leader, but C.J. has certainly tried to take the bull by the horns and be a good leader for our team," said Saban.

Mosley said he is doing his dead-level best to lead the 2013 defense, despite a quiet off-the-field nature. "I have to take full responsibility for making sure we (as a defense) do the little things that will help us win games," he said. "To do that, all I have to do is make sure I stick to the plan, and buy into the system. I feel confident I can be a leader on this team."

Mosley, like McCarron, feels the legacy this year's seniors leave will be important, and it means a lot to him. "There's a lot of tradition at Alabama," he said, "To know that 10, 20 years down the road, I'll be mentioned with some of the great (Alabama) players is a great honor. To have already won two national championships in my first three years is really special to me."

Mosley said he and junior Trey DePriest have been working hard with true freshman Reuben Foster this summer. "Reuben is working at the ‘Mike' (middle) linebacker, and we're making sure he is taking control of the (second) defense. I think he's going to do a good job for us."

Mosley was named first team pre-season All-SEC by the media, and received more votes than anyone, including South Carolina star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

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