The toughest part of competing for the quarterback position on any football team is the stone-cold truth that there’s only one slot available.
At any other position on the field, there’s more than enough room for more than one player to excel — you can have two running backs, each as good as Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, and utilize them both either equally or in respective roles.
The same goes for wide receivers. Not only are there several on the field in any given offensive formation, but there’s the chance for second stringers to come in regularly while the starters take a short breather.
And defense offers, many times, even more second-string playing time.
Not so with the team’s inherent position of leadership, and Phillip Sims knows this all too well — can you blame him for not wanting to sit on the sideline barely breaking a sweat for 12 more games? Or having the opportunity to take a snap only when the game is clearly in hand or AJ McCarron winds up hurt?
The situation after the 2009 season was much the same: When four-star recruit Star Jackson sat the entirety of an undefeated national championship run behind Greg McElroy, he dashed, too.
McCarron and Sims were recruited in back-to-back years, and the 2011 competition that started in the spring and ended in Happy Valley last fall (after McCarron abruptly took the reins in a well-managed game against Penn State) had been looming since the day Jackson decided to leave in 2010.
Sims, much like Jackson, is simply a casualty of Coach Nick Saban’s perpetual championship-producing machine. It’s not Saban’s fault directly, but to win the way he does coaches must bring in the best talent year in and year out and let natural attrition fall the way it may.
Talents like Sims and McCarron just happen to be close enough in age that if one wins the spot, the other will basically be left with the chance at one year as a fifth-year senior, should he choose to stick with the team.
It would be a waste of Sims’ abilities to ride the bench another year, especially when there’s an opportunity for him to be the No. 1 guy at a school for two seasons and potentially push him into NFL prospect territory.
Sims possesses all of the tools necessary to be a great college quarterback, and he could have been so in a crimson uniform. The writing was on the wall, last year about midway through the season as McCarron grew more comfortable and blossomed as the team’s leader.
Sims has a bright future ahead of him, and it’s a shame it doesn’t include Alabama, especially given the new lack of depth behind McCarron.
The question is, with Saban at the helm, how many more potential all-star quarterbacks will sit while another, slightly better quarterback plays the starting role?
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