Quarterback State Is Near Perfect

Prior to the 2009 season, everyone knew Alabama was going to be playing with a quarterback who had almost no college football game experience. And no one seemed to be worried about it. So what's to worry about now?



Alabama went into last year with fourth-year junior Greg McElroy as the clear-cut choice to succeed John Parker Wilson at quarterback. Wilson had played practically every down at the position the previous three years, leaving McElroy to stand on the sidelines, relaying plays from the offensive coordinator to Wilson on the field. But McElroy was learning, and when he finally got his chance, it was perfect.

No, really. Perfect.

McElroy led Alabama to a perfect 14-0 season, including a win over his home-state university, Texas, for the national championship. Along the way he was the Most Valuable Player as Alabama disposed of Florida in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.

McElroy, who had a 16-0 record in his only season as a starting high school quarterback, will get two starting seasons in college. Last year McElroy completed 198 of 325 passes (60.9 per cent) for 2,508 yards with 17 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

The work this spring for other quarterback candidates will be positioning themselves for the back-up role in 2010. Spring practice starts Friday. After The University has its spring break, drills will resume March 22, leading up to the 15th practice, the annual A-Day Game. The Crimson-White game will be at 2 p.m. CDT Saturday, April 17, in Bryant-Denny Stadium. There is no charge for admission. ESPN will televise the event nationwide.

Here is another in our series looking at various football positions leading up to spring practice.

The declaration (trite, but true) that a back-up is just a play away from being the starter is part of the equation in the spring. Nevertheless, at quarterback as at every other position, Coach Nick Saban is more concerned about each player improving than he is about a depth chart.

So the other quarterback candidates will be trying to improve, positioning themselves for the "in case" of an injury to McElroy, and more realistically auditioning for the future role of starter.

Alabama lost walk-on Thomas Darrah, who transferred to Jacksonville following the BCS Championship Game.

Prior to that game against Texas, Saban provided a bit of a surprise when asked who would play quarterback if something happened to McElroy. Saban said that true freshman (now upcoming redshirt freshman) A.J. McCarron had done the best job in preparation and that Saban would owe it to the team to play the best player in the national championship game. McCarron is a 6-4, 190-pounder who has a reputation both as a heady quarterback and an excellent passer. As a prep star at St. Paul's Episcopal School in Mobile he passed for over 6,000 yards and 66 touchdowns with just nine interceptions as a three-year starter.

Before Saban's pre-BCS Game announcement, the back-up quarterback had been presumed to be Star Jackson (6-3, 206, junior). Jackson played in five games in mop-up duty last fall and completed 13-18 passes for 116 yards—most of that against North Texas when he played all but the opening drive of the second half. Against the Mean Green he was 9-13 for 87 yards.

Alabama added a quarterback in the 2010 signing class, one of 11 newcomers who is enrolled in The University and preparing to participate in spring practice. Phillip Sims was ranked the number two prep prospect at quarterback in the nation by Scout.com, which gave him a five-star rating. Sims is a 6-2, 230-pounder from Oscar F. Smith High in Chesapeake, Va. As a senior he completed 179 of 295 passes for 2,975 yards with 32 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. For his career he passed for 10,775 yards.

Morgan Ogilvie, the son of former Alabama All-America tailback Major Ogilvie, is a walk-on quarterback candidate. Ogilvie, 6-0, 185, worked on the scout team the past two seasons.

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