A.J. McCarron had never visited the city with the brightest lights until today even though the gifted Alabama quarterback has flourished on a myriad of marquee college football stages located in Auburn, Baton Rouge, College Station, Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans and Tuscaloosa. A trip to Manhattan for the Heisman Memorial Trophy ceremony seemed imminent for the self-professed New York Yankees fan after an illustrious career and senior season.
Two hours prior to the televised event, media members were entertained by the Mobile native on the sixth floor of the New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square coincidentally situated on Broadway, America's most famous street associated with Showtime. Sophisticated voters this past week recognized the talents of the quintessential game manager savant by honoring McCarron with the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Maxwell Award (first recipient in school history) and designation as the First Team All-America Quarterback by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. They realized the value of a signal caller with extraordinary mental and physical skills. McCarron audibles into the correct play, commands the huddle, selects the proper receiver, throws with accuracy (67.6%), exhibits courageous leadership and administers the philosophy set forth by the head coach.
Nick Saban, the Albert Einstein of college football coaches, frequently references the term relative. McCarron operated in a pro-style offense strategically designed for balance between the run and pass not skewed towards accumulating stratospheric statistics. Whether the Heisman Trophy voters were captivated by the Tide's most decorated quarterback in school history remains to be seen – career passing yardage (8,632), touchdown passes (75), completion percentage (67.0), completions (667), consecutive passes without an interception (291) and single season touchdown passes (30). Many believe the Brady-esque quarterback embodies the Heisman Trust's stated mission that the award is presented annually to "the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity".
Presence in the Big Apple was worth all the indignities suffered with inferences categorizing McCarron as "only" a game manager. Every coach, team and school should be so lucky as to have a quarterback displaying such a high level of proficiency. McCarron achieved a school record 36-3 overall won-loss mark with the majority of those against opponents in the most challenging league, the Southeastern Conference. The 6-4, 214 pound fifth-year senior was 12-3 in his career against top 25 teams, 7-2 versus top ten opponents including a 3-1 record this season. He will forever be immortalized by the Alabama faithful for winning back-to-back National Championships (2011 & 2012).
McCarron, one of six finalists for the 79th edition, fulfilled a dream by receiving an invitation to the annual Heisman Memorial Trophy ceremony. Harry Gilmer (1945 & 1947), Pat Trammell (1961), Terry Davis (1972) and Jay Barker (1994) all finished fifth in the voting, the highest ever by an Alabama quarterback.
Alabama will be led by McCarron for the final time in the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma on January 2. McCarron finished second in the Heisman voting with 704 points trailing the winner, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston's total of 2,205. Listed on 43% of the tabulated ballots, he finished second in three of the six regions – Far West (128), South (128) and Mid-Atlantic (112) and third in the remaining three – Southwest (104), Midwest (102) and Northeast (130). Votes received by McCarron were 79 (1st), 162 (2nd) and 143 (3rd). A total of 870 media members from across the nation, 57 Heisman winners and one fan comprised the 928 electors. McCarron's second place finish was the highest ever by an Alabama quarterback.
BamaMag.com sat down with McCarron before the ceremony began.
BamaMag.com also took in the roundtable with all six candidates before the ceremony began.