And yet when the Alabama spring football game was over, the top award had gone to freshman quarterback John Parker Wilson, who handled duties for the losing squad last Saturday. In the interview room following the contest, the media members who had voted Wilson the Dixie Howell Memorial Award as the game's most valuable player, clustered around the freshman. (In defense of the media voters, balloting has to be concluded early in the fourth quarter, and Marc Guillon's game-winning pass came late in the final period.)
Now Wilson and Guillon will prepare to renew the battle in the fall. That battle is for second team quarterback, behind senior Brodie Croyle. Croyle could have competed in the A-Day Game, but Head Coach Mike Shula pointed out it is more important that Croyle be ready in the fall than it was to put him on display in a scrimmage situation in the Crimson-White game. Croyle did participate in pre-game passing exercises.
The winning points in the A-Day Game came with 3:54 to play. On a first down play from the Crimson 28, Guillon hit a nice pass to sophomore wide receiver Ezekial Knight for a 19-18 lead. (In a game situation, the team would have gone for a two-point conversion, but part of A-Day was to look at placekickers, so walk-on place-kicker Jason Grammer kicked the final point of spring practice.)
"It was good to get the win," said Guillon, a 6-3, 212-pound upcoming junior. "I enjoyed it a lot more than last year. It was a learning experience last year. I was a lot more comfortable this year."
Guillon also enjoyed getting some rest this year. Last year he was the only scholarshipped quarterback available for duty in the A-Day Game and handled duties for both the Crimson and White squads. He said he had between 90 and 95 plays last spring. He was in about 50 plays this year.
Guillon's statistics compared favorably with Wilson's. Wilson completed 14 of 31 passes for 168 yards and Guillon was good on 13 of 26 for 157 yards. Both had one touchdown pass and both had long completions of 28 yards. Wilson was intercepted twice and Guillon once. Wilson was "sacked" (a sack was a defensive player getting into position to make a tackle since the quarterbacks were protected) three times, Guillon once.
Guillon said he enjoyed the opportunity to throw the winning pass. "We were out there competing," he said. "That's what I want to do. We were down and time was running out and we got the win."
He said, "I would like to take credit for calling the play, but it wasn't an audible. The coaches called it and it was a good call, a pump route, play action. Then Zeke (Knight) went out and got it. He's a play-maker, one of about six we've got at wide receiver."
Guillon said, "Last year I was really green, and in the game I was excited, but nervous. This year it was just playing football. Experience is the difference."
He said one advantage for Alabama's offense "is going up against our defense each day. They didn't blitz in the A-Day Game, which made it easier for the offense."
Guillon, who transferred from Miami in 2003, took over for Croyle last year after Croyle's season ended in the third game with a knee injury. Guillon finished that game, then started the next two games before he was lost for the year with a back injury. As a sophomore he completed 20 of 43 passes for 191 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.
Shula pointed out that Guillon had a good spring despite not being 100 per cent recovered from his back injury.
"I felt like I did a good job," Guillon said. "I just want to compete, to have a fair shot and have a chance to help us win."