Namath Says AJ Will Play In NFL

If you can name Alabama's starting quarterbacks over the past 50 or 60 years, you are not really special. Thousands of Crimson Tide fans could do it with a fair degree of accuracy. But if you have BEEN one of those quarterbacks, now that's special. The latest in that special position is AJ McCarron.

The most notable thing about A.J. McCarron is that he has quarterbacked Alabama to back-to-back national championships and is back for a final season to have a chance at making history, becoming the first to quarterback a college team to three consecutive national championships.

Last year he became the all-time Crimson Tide leader in career passing touchdowns with 49 and also became the single season record-holder at Alabama as he threw for 30 touchdowns. Against that, he was intercepted only three times in 2012. That's a primary reason he was the national leader in passing efficiency. He has thrown a Bama record 291 consecutive passes without an interception.

Here is the second in a series in which we see how other special people see the position of Bama quarterback and, more important, how they see Alabama quarterback A J McCarron:

Who better than to expound on Alabama quarterback play than one of the all-time greatest, Joe Namath (Crimson Tide quarterback 1962-64).

"Reflecting on being the quarterback, I immediately went back to that 18-year old kid that had an opportunity to be at The University of Alabama and the importance of playing that position for Coach Bryant's team. It was and is a highly responsible position to earn. One of the things Coach Bryant told us when we were freshman was that down the road none of us could envision the age we are today. We would recall the tough times, the losses, the games that we let get away would be in our memory quicker than the good times of winning the national championship and maybe we could have done things better. I cherish my history with The University of Alabama and Coach Bryant. Being part of the Crimson Tide family is cherished by everyone who has been through there. It gets better and better.

"AJ has developed into quite a quarterback. He is a fine passer and I know he is working to get better. It's exciting to know that in the last three years he has the experience of being in big games. There is a lot to be said for the experience he has. He's played against the best competition in the last three years and has played beautifully. He's a very confident man and a great competitor. He has an eagerness to get out there and do better than he has the last three years. I don't think he thinks about individual glory at all. He is a well-rounded man. The way he carries himself on the football field is the way he seems to carry himself off the football field. He does things in the right fashion and with a lot of confidence. I don't know of any of us that has ever played a perfect game but he has done very well. He's got terrific size.

"It looks to me like he does everything very well. I don't break down the game films but just from everything I see I don't have one negative criticism of his play. AJ would probably like to get quicker afoot to be able to move around a little faster. If he wants to play in the NFL, he will have the opportunity. He does a pretty good job now of moving around at 6-4. A big man doesn't always look that quick but he is covering some ground. I haven't seen him having any trouble throwing all the different passes. He has touch and knows when to put air under it. He has the change of speeds. He's displayed his ability to throw the long ball or drill it in there. He has the combination of being mentally sharp as well as the physical ability to play the position. He has a lot of positives. I know AJ appreciates being on that team and with that coaching staff. I know he feels blessed to be at The University of Alabama with that family."

And from Steve Sloan (1963-65):

"I enjoyed going to Alabama. I enjoyed the experience of The University in the classroom, the games, Coach Bryant, and his staff. The guys I played with were very good players. I just enjoyed the entire experience not necessarily because we won almost all the games. Coach Bryant was such a dominant personality. I had never known anybody with that type of personality. I found the whole thing enjoyable and very interesting as well. It was a total experience not just the pressure of playing quarterback."

As for McCarron, Sloan said, "He's got very good fundamentals. He's pretty tall, has a good arm, and is a good deep passer. Not everyone can throw the deep ball like he does. He seems to have a really good understanding of where he is going to throw the ball. If he has to run often times he makes the first down. He's got a lot of equanimity. You don't ever really see him get shook up much. It's important that a quarterback be calm and cool because it's a complex game now -- much more so than when I tried to play. I think he has a lot of pluses. I enjoy watching him play.

"A quarterback has to read the progressions for each passing play called. AJ has a sense of understanding the defense and finding the correct receiver, particularly on the deep ball. He hits them right in the hands which is a good trait to possess. He is pretty accurate on the long passes."

Scott Hunter (1968-70):

"I guess next to being elected President of the United States, being quarterback at Alabama is quite up there. I would tell quarterbacks over the years, once the football season starts, not many people may care who their congressmen or senators are, not even their governor but they all care about who the quarterback is at The University of Alabama and Auburn University.

"I think AJ (McCarron) is on track to be a top draft choice in the National Football League and I think he is on track to be our first starting quarterback in the NFL in probably 30 years. When I say starter, I don't mean just a spot player or someone who may start a game or two. I mean someone like Richard Todd, Kenny Stabler, myself and Joe Namath – a guy that is going to get in there and be a starter type quarterback for years and years.

"Field command. He's got that ‘I'm in command' look about him. That is what you have to do to play in the NFL. It is a given when you are drafted high that you have the arm strength, body, talent, and skill. You can argue over the degrees of things but you have all the minimum of those at least. The next thing is that Peyton Manning, Bart Starr command. I think AJ this past year showed that ability. He truly became a commander out there. A commander has to justify his decisions. Others may question him including the head coach and offensive coordinator."

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