"I can't wait to play in the SEC."

AJ McCarron was part of a powerful group at St. Paul's which won a state championship in 2007. The team featured current players Ivan Matchett and Mark Barron. It also showcased Destin Hood, who would also commit to Alabama, but decided to pursue a career in professional baseball. This fall he'll reunite with his former high school teammates and hopes to join them on another championship journey.

"With the recruiting class Alabama had last year, I knew Coach Saban has the team heading towards a national championship," said AJ McCarron.

McCarron shares a close bond with his future head coach.

"He (coach Saban) was the main guy recruiting me, and that made a big difference in my decision," he explained. "We have a great relationship. I also love Coach Mac (Jim McElwain) and Coach (James) Willis."

Willis just recently joined the Tide's coaching staff. Previously, he was an assistant coach at Auburn and one of their top recruiters.

"I almost committed to Auburn because of him (Willis)," said McCarron. "Coach Saban asked me on my official who my favorite recruiter was, and I told him Coach Willis. Then he looked at me and said, "all right we're gonna get him'. I was real happy that he came."

McCarron got to meet a lot of recruiters during the selection process. Jimbo Fisher wanted him at FSU, Miami (AJ''s team growing up) offered, as did Ole Miss, Tennessee and Oklahoma.

"I was real close to going to Oklahoma," said McCarron. "I liked (quarterbacks coach) Josh Heupel and Coach Stoops a lot. Their offensive really fit me and what I like to do. In the end, it was so far away."

McCarron gave his commitment to Alabama on 5/3/08.

"At age 17-18 it's hard to be 100-percent on anything," he explained. "You barely know yourself at this age. I went with my gut feeling Alabama is the right place for me. It's close to home and close enough to where my parents can come see me play.

"I hope the decision pays off and it ends up being a great situation for me. Plus going to Alabama opens up a lot of doors after football. I can't wait to play in the SEC."

In the SEC the front 7 come at your hard and fast, McCarron knows he needs to bulk up in order to face the demands of playing quarterback in the most competitive conference in the nation.

"I've always been on the slimmer side," said McCarron chuckling. "I'm working on getting bigger, gaining weight (close to 190), and hitting the weight room."

"I'm not playing basketball this year to get myself ready physically. I've been working out with a trainer five times a week. But like Coach Saban says, if I'm doing the right things at quarterback, he doesn't care what I weigh, he's going to play me."

Starting as a true freshman is difficult anywhere, but especially in the SEC which features some of the most complex defenses in the college game.

"I'm not worried about where I am on the depth chart," McCarron stated. "I just want to go in there and compete for playing time. I'll have to be patient, and know the faster I learn the playbook, the faster I get on the field.'

"I'm not expecting to redshirt. If it happens, it happens. I just want to come in to camp and compete and see where I'm at."

"My strengths as a quarterback are I make plays. I can run the ball well, and love to throw the deep ball."

Some of the new guys McCarron keeps in close contact with can really help him on offense.

"I talk a lot with Trent (Richardson), D.J. (Fluker), and Pat Patterson, hopefully he'll come. I'm real good friends with Nico (Johnson). We're planning on rooming together," he said.

McCarron recently took his official visit to the University on January 16th.

"Basically, it was just the same ol', same ol'. I mean I've been there a million times so there was nothing really new to see. It was fun just hanging out, and going out at night," he commented.

"My host for the weekend was Brandon Gibson. I had met most of the guys already, but I met Jonathan Atchison for the first time. I feel blessed to have had that experience."

The post season accolades poured in for McCarron. He was named All-State, part of Alabama's Super 12, selected to EA Sports Elite 11, which is the premiere event for high school quarterbacks in the country, earned MVP honors at the Alabama- Mississippi All-Star Classic, and was a member of the U.S. Army All-American game.

"It was fun," McCarron said. "As far as the game itself, there were too many rotations, just too many players on one team, and it was hard to get into a rhythm. It was a great experience though."

"The most fun I had was talking to a solider. We each were assigned a soldier to kind of show us around. He was talking to me about the war and what it was like, but we also talked a lot about football. He was a real good guy."

McCarron is a good student at St. Paul's. He reports a 3.1 GPA and a 19 on the ACT. At Alabama he'll have his mind on football, but also will keep in mind what he wants to pursue after he hangs up the shoulder pads.

"I want to major in Communications," he said. "I'd like to go into Broadcasting or possibly coaching."

At St. Paul's, McCarron wore No. 10 and plans on keeping the number when he suits up for the Crimson Tide.

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