Will a transfer swoop in and win Alabama's starting QB job in 2014?; Photo: USA Today Sports
March Madness is just about upon us! No, I'm not talking about basketball. I'm talking about spring practices starting up around the country. Now is one of the times where young players have a big chance to make an impression on the coaching staff. This year we are bringing back the "Filling the Void" series as we look at some of the more interesting position battles and who will be replacing some of the best players from around the country.
First up? Alabama.
Nick Saban has been fantastic since coming to Alabama. If you take away his first season, the Tide have gone 72-9. Oh yeah, they also have won three BCS National Championships. Not bad, but Bama is coming off of a "down" season. Or at least what Bama fans consider a "down" season in the Nick Saban era. I mean, they lost two games. That's pretty bad, right?
One interesting thing about the Saban era in Tuscaloosa is how stable the QB position has been. In seven seasons, Saban has had just three QBs that he has depended on. John Parker Wilson was under center in 2007 and 2008. Greg McElroy took over in 2009 and 2010. AJ McCarron was the man in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Another interesting twist to throw into the QB battle is the new Offensive Coordinator.
You've seen that guy before, right? This could be fun.
AJ McCarron (2012 stats): 226 of 336 (67.3%), 3,063 yards, 28 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He was also the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy.
Who's filling the void?
Blake Sims, Senior (2012 stats): 18 of 29 (62.1%) for 167 yards with 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.
Alec Morris, Redshirt Sophomore
Cooper Bateman, Redshirt Freshman
Parker McLeod, Redshirt Freshman
David Cornwell, True Freshman (Early Enrollee)
Jacob Coker, Redshirt Junior (Transfer from FSU; 2012 stats): 18 of 36 (61.9%), for 250 yards with 0 touchdowns and 1 interception
What's happening this spring?
Last year, Blake Sims was thought to be the heir apparent to AJ McCarron. Sims was the only QB not named AJ McCarron to throw a pass in 2013. But, if you go back to the fall, Saban was very careful not to commit to Sims as the starting QB for 2014. Sims will go into spring practice as the man to beat, but history has not favored Saban going with a player with only one year of eligibility as the starting QB. While Sims is the early favorite to win the job, it will still be an uphill battle for him.
The trio of Bateman, Morris and McLeod sit firmly entrenched behind Sims as they enter spring practice. Bateman was one of the top QB recruits of the 2013 class but has yet to distinguish himself. Morris had a great spring game in 2013 but couldn't carry over the momentum to the fall. McLeod is said to throw one of the best balls of the group despite not having some of the physical tools of his competitors.
The wildcard is David Cornwell. He is an early enrollee but is coming off of an injury in his senior season of high school football. He has all the tools to be Alabama's next QB but it's more realistic to look at him as Alabama's QB after the next one.
What to expect heading into the summer and fall?
Alabama will not name a starting QB until late August. Why? Because they want to give FSU transfer Jacob Coker every chance to compete for the job this fall.
Originally a three-star prospect out of high school, Coker actually went to the same high school as AJ McCarron. Hmmmm…..Coker was beat out by Jameis Winston at FSU (who wouldn't have been?) but he brings a lot of tools to Alabama and he wouldn't have gotten a scholarship from Saban if he wasn't going to come in and be given every chance to win the starting job.
This fall it will be Sims and Coker battling it out for the right to be under center for Alabama. Sims has been in the program for the long-haul but I would be surprised if Coker isn't the man that is leading Alabama in 2014.