The New Man

Ask any football expert about the 2006 Alabama team and an immediate response will include Bama having lost quarterback Brodie Croyle. Ask any Crimson Tide football player about the quarterback position and the answer will be that Alabama is in good hands.

And John Parker Wilson, the upcoming sophomore who is expected to replace Brodie Croyle as Alabama's starting quarterback this fall, said that he is doing all he can to be prepared for that job.

Wilson came to Alabama in the fall of 2004 as a parttime student, a grayshirt who would join the team in bowl practice, then begin serious practice in the spring of 2005. Last season as a freshman he was Croyle's back-up and saw limited action. In mostly meaningless playing time he completed seven of 11 passes for 98 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for one touchdown.

"I've been trying to work hard," Wilson said Thursday at a summer meeting with sportswriters. "I've got a long way to go to be where I want to be."

His daily schedule includes morning strength and conditioning work, followed by classes, then afternoon pass skel, the voluntary workouts in which offensive backs and receivers go against defensive backs and linebackers. After that, Wilson heads to the film room to watch videotape of Alabama's offense, Wilson's work in the spring, and the defenses of Bama's early season opponents.

"I watch a lot of film," he said. "I watched it last summer, but I think I know better what I'm looking for now. I'm learning more. Last year I think sometimes I was watching just to be watching. But last year there was someone in front of me. This year I think if I don't get the job done, no one will."

Wilson is not the only quarterback working out. Redshirt freshman Jimmy Barnes is also on the practice field each afternoon. Senior Marc Guillon, who is expected to be Wilson's back-up, has not been working out. Wilson speculated that Guillon is rehabilitating his hand, which was injured in the spring.

Wilson said the summer has been productive."I think we have gotten more together as an offensive team since spring ball."

Asked whether the offense or the defense was having the better of it in pass skel work, Wilson smiled and said, "We've been killing them. We're moving up and down the field."

Wilson's teammates like what they see in him.

"Everywhere I go people want to know how the Tide is going to be without Brodie," said senior offensive tackle Kyle Tatum. "We're going to miss Brodie, but that's the way football is. Someone moves on and someone else moves up to take his place.

"John Parker Wilson is going to be a great quarterback. His understanding of the offense really came along in the spring; he made great progress. His work ethic has risen since he's going to be The Man–the quarterback at The University of Alabama.

"He's really taken on a leadership role–in the weight room and in pass skel."

Senior halfback Kenneth Darby said, "Brodie was a great quarterback and we're going to miss him, but we've got another great quarterback in John Parker. He's come a long way. He's learned so much and is getting better every day. And I mean he started learning from the first day he got here and has gotten better every day. He's going to lead this team to a lot of victories and open some peoples' eyes."

Ramzee Robinson sees Wilson from the other side of the ball. The senior cornerback said, "He's doing good. Real good. And the thing that stands out is his leadership. I think after he gets those first two or three games under his belt he's going to be a great one. I worked against 12 (Croyle) for three years and now I see the exact same things from 14 (Wilson). Although 12 throws it a little harder."

Wilson thinks that Darby and a veteran offensive line will be a big help this fall. "Having a running back like KD takes a lot of pressure off the quarterback," Wilson said. "And our offensive line with four guys returning has come a long way."

Wilson said he believes he can handle the ups and downs that come with football. "I hope there will be a lot more highs than lows," he said. "But I know there are going to be both."

BamaMag Top Stories