Tide QB Race Down To Three

I am one of those who will miss Jimmy Barnes. It was revealed over the weekend that the upcoming third-year Alabama quarterback intends to transfer.

I don't think Jimmy Barnes was likely to challenge for the starting quarterback job at Alabama, and it's likely he wasn't going to be in the picture as the back-up, either. It wouldn't surprise me if Crimson Tide Head Coach Nick Saban or Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Major Applewhite suggested to Barnes that his playing time outlook at Bama was not good. That would be the right thing to do if Barnes isn't going to fit into the offense.

Barnes ended up last year when Marc Guillon quit in the middle of the season. That didn't mean much. To say he had limited action is almost an overstatement. He was 6-11 for 45 yards, including a touchdown pass to Matt Caddell, against Florida International. He also had six snaps against Louisiana Monroe. His gameday work during the season was signaling plays to quarterback John Parker Wilson.

It didn't help Barnes that he suffered a knee injury that required surgery and limited his participation in spring practice, the first spring under Saban and Applewhite. Barnes did participate to some extrent, comparable to his "limited action" of 2006.

An interesting conversation I had with an Alabama fan last spring went something like this:

Fan: "I'm glad Saban stood up to you writers and doesn't let you watch practice."

Me: "It's his practice; he can run it like he wants to."

Fan: "How's Greg McElroy looking at quarterback?"

Me: "How the @#&* should I know? Saban doesn't let me watch practice."

I'm not sure how much I could tell anyone about how a player looks based on practice performance. We all saw in the A-Day Game that McElroy can make some throws and seems to have trouble with some others.

To most reporters, the question regarding the Alabama quarterback position in 2007 is who will be the back-up to John Parker Wilson. And most of us didn't include Barnes. McElroy is the obvious pick, but some think it may be incoming freshman Nick Fanuzzi, who we have seen only via highlight tape.

As has often been pointed out, everyone looks good on his highlight tape, and Fanuzzi certainly does.

One thing Wilson, McElroy and Fanuzzi all seem to have is the ability to run. Is the Alabama quarterback going to be expected to run in Bama's offense this year?

Because Alabama opens the season September 1 against Western Carolina, there's a caution sign in the minds of many Crimson Tide followers when it comes to quarterback running. It was against Western Carolina that Brodie Croyle was scrambling out of bounds with a big second half lead when he suffered a season-ending (for him and Bama) knee injury.

Jimmy Barnes may not have been able to get into the Alabama quarterback battle. He may have come to that conclusion with no nudge from Saban or Applewhite. I think he'll be a loss, though.

He's a smart guy and a tough guy. He wasn't a threat to run, but he would stand in the pocket, find a receiver, and make a good pass. He's the son of a coach and it shows.

I first saw Jimmy Barnes when he was practicing for the Army All-American Game in San Antonio, Texas, in January, 2005. His father, John, rates among the most successful high school coaches in California history and he was coach of the West team, so Jimmy had a little advantage.

The other two quarterbacks on that West squad were the top two quarterback prospects in the nation that year, Mark Sanchez and Ryan Periloux. I was surprised to see Barnes perform better than those two in practice and then prove to be the best quarterback in the game. Barnes was also the winning quarterback. (Sanchez is at USC, Periloux at LSU, recruited by You Know Who.)


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