Phillip Ely may now be the most valuable player on the Crimson Tide football team with the departure of Phillip Sims for Virginia.
What was arguably one of the more stable positions heading into spring practice, the once deep and talented quarterback position is no longer the asset for the Tide it was a mere few weeks ago.
Junior starting quarterback AJ McCarron has an outstanding handle on the position, especially given the wealth of game experience that comes with a full year of playing time.
Right behind him sat Sims, arguably just as talented and capable. His only knock was his lack of game-time experience.
With Sims’ departure, redshirt freshman Ely assumes the role as McCarron’s backup, and brings with him a slew of question marks. The situation doesn’t get any clearer behind him either, with 2012 signee Alec Morris presumably taking over third-string duties.
Ely signed with the Tide out of Plant High School in Tampa, Fla. He’s not a big guy — just 6-foot one-inch tall and 200 pounds — but out of high school, recruiting reports described him as being a good decision maker, using his feet well and throwing accurately and consistently.
The negatives were his size and arm strength — both of which are probably improved greatly under Conditioning Coach Scott Cochran.
He was listed as a three-star recruit and ranked No. 41 in quarterback ratings on Scout.com for 2011. The site did refer to him repeatedly as a winner, and his rings back those claims up: He won two state championships and played in a third.
Numbers and stats serve their purposes, but what’s he like on the field? Other than a few snaps at A-Day last month it’s hard to say, and unless something happens to McCarron, no one will probably know anything until quarterback competition for the 2013 season starts.
Coach Nick Saban will more than likely try to use a redshirt on Morris, though it may depend on Ely’s ability as a backup.
The Allen, Texas native is a bit bigger than Ely, measuring 6-foot-4 inches and weighing 235 pounds. He too, was a three-star on Scout.com and threw for 3,200 yards and 35 touchdowns in his senior year at Allen High.
His biggest strength is his throwing ability, noting he makes both strong and accurate passes. His recruiting downsides were his slow release and his lack of mobility.
Though, like Ely, his collegiate-level abilities are completely unknown, and unlike Ely he will have only been on campus and in the offensive system for a few weeks by the time the 2012 season starts. Ely enrolled in the spring of 2011.
Here’s to hoping neither sees quality playing time until they’re a bit older. For now, here are high school highlight tapes for both.
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