November 3, 2012; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron (10) before a game against the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium. Alabama defeated LSU 21-17. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

AJ McCarron: The Definition of a Leader

The Alabama Crimson Tide has an unquestioned leader in senior quarterback AJ McCarron as they prepare for the 2013 college football season.

Team leader is the most important position any athlete, on any team, in any sport, can hold. Many times, no matter how deep the talent on a team is, that team will go only as far as the leader takes it. The head coach is the ultimate leader of a team, but he needs a great leader on the field as well.  A true leader is one that teammates can look to and depend on when they go to “war” on the field.

In the biggest moments of the biggest games, McCarron is cool, calm and collected. From the final drive against LSU in 2012 or the late touchdown against Georgia, or the dominating performance in the last two BCS National Championship games, McCarron leads his teammates on the field.

Off the field, however, may be where McCarron truly shows his leadership. Only his teammates can fully attest to the type of leader McCarron is in the locker room; how he pushes his teammates in the weight room or on the practice field. But the way he carries himself and represents his team off the field is the definition of a leader.

McCarron, even by his own account, has begun to think like his coach, Nick Saban. After former offensive coordinator Jim McElwain left Alabama to coach Colorado State, it was McCarron that Saban had sitting in on the interviews, even asking his own questions, of possible OCs.

Last week, all eyes turned to McCarron at SEC Media Days. The gathered press asked the Tide QB questions about Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and his dismissal from the Manning Passing Academy last weekend, where the two signal callers were roommates.McCarron handled the questions with class, declining to offer the assembled press any juicy tidbits.

For his part, McCarron has been the anti-Manziel this off season. He has stayed primarily out of the spotlight, while his girlfriend Kathryn Webb has shot to full-fledged celebrity status, McCarron continuously says all he cares about is winning and getting better.

It’s one thing to say that, but as questions surfaced as to why McCarron wasn’t at the ESPY’s this week, McCarron said he was on campus working with his teammates rather than hanging out with celebrities at the ESPY’s. That, McCarron said, is where he needed to be.

As the on-field leader of the Aggies gave his mea culpa by saying, “I’m a 20 year old kid and I make mistakes,” McCarron offered a different perspective:

“I’m 22 but I can’t go out and act a fool and make mistakes like other 22 year olds,” McCarron said.

The difference between knowing what needs to be done, and actually doing it, is the definition of a leader.

If a team is only as great as its leader, AJ McCarron could lead his to even more greatness.

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