National Signing Day is just over a week away and the Alabama Crimson Tide expects to sign a top ranked recruiting class containing, at least, two quarterbacks. Two recruits, Parker McCleod and Cooper Bateman, are already enrolled in classes at The Capstone. Another player in the mix, Luke Del Rio, announced before Christmas that he intends to walk-on at Alabama, turning down multiple scholarships in the process.
Technically speaking, Alabama already has seven quarterbacks on the roster. That’s how many were listed for 2012 and none were seniors. However, most of them will never see the field in that position and one, Phillip Ely, is considering a transfer. Why is it so important to have so many quarterbacks on hand? Depth and attrition can take a toll quickly in college football. Consider the late 1980s for a moment.
Alabama started off the 1987 season with two highly touted recruits, Billy Ray and Jeff Dunn, expected to compete with Vince Sutton for the starting job. Sutton managed to start a few games later in his career but the starting job was won by walk-on David Smith. Ray later transferred, Dunn was injured and an unknown named Gary Hollingsworth, who was also a pitcher for the baseball team, won the job for the next two seasons and passed his way into the record books with an unorthodox style.
After Hollingsworth, the Tide expected high school star Danny Woodson to start while big name recruits Jason Jack and Steve Christopher contended for the back-up role. The eventual starting job went to Jay Barker who had only one year of experience as an option QB in high school. Barker led the Tide to an outstanding 35-2-1 record and a national championship.
In recent years, Greg McElroy and current starter AJ McCarron have led the Tide to national championships after “experts” predicted other players to win the starting jobs. Several factors can determine who takes the field for the first snap of the season and whether they keep the job. They all have talent or they would not be there. Sometimes, depth requires a player to make a position change and other times an injury can push a skilled player out of contention. Other times, a star recruit just does not work well in a system not suited for their style of play. Anything can happen, which is why recruiting analysts can’t make accurate projections about the success of a quarterback in college.
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