Around the Tooth 9-18-2013


WHAT A GAME!!!!  It’s probably good that we didn’t have an oasis of information/conversation like The Houndztooth prior to the Saban era.  Could you imagine some of the things that our passionate fans would be posting/saying/complaining about?  I don’t know of too many teams that could have gone on the road to deal with a Top-10 team featuring the Heisman Trophy winning QB and a top 15 pick at WR both having the games of their lives.  Not to mention having to fight back after quickly falling behind 14-0.

AJ McCarron (courtesy

However that’s exactly what the 2013 edition of Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide did.  Much like the highly anticipated and hard-fought LSU game from 2011, this game went down to the wire.  Miscues on both sides kept the other team in the game.  However in contrast to the LSU game, this game became all about the offenses.  The QB matchup of AJ McCarron versus Johnny Manziel definitely lived up to the billing.  Which brings us to a topic that has been burning up Alabama message boards for the better parts of the past year, if not more…  Who takes the reins after AJ leaves?  Coming off the EPIC QB matchup that just took place at College Station, TX and leading into the return of Former Tide Offensive Coordinator, Jim McElwain, to Bryant-Denny as head coach of the Colorado State Rams, let’s take a look at the Alabama QB-position after AJ.

Morris, McCarron & Sims (courtesy

Let’s start by taking a look at the Veterans.  Redshirt (RS) Junior QB, Blake Sims actually started his career at Alabama as a tailback, but let’s remember that coming out of High School, Blake was a highly regarded 6’0” 200lb 4-Star Dual-Threat QB/Athlete prospect that was known for his game-breaking speed and playmaking ability.  Blake’s move to QB came after it became clear (after the 2011 Championship season) that QB Phillip Sims would be moving on in search of playing time.  Even though he played his High School football in the state of Georgia, Blake was often the best athlete on the field, and much like other great athlete QB’s his ability to run may have hampered his development as a passer.

Blake Sims & Coach Saban (courtesy

Blake was the primary backup QB to AJ McCarron for the 2012 Championship season, and he displayed exceptional ability as a Zone-Read QB, but he is far from being the ideal pro-style drop-back pocket passing QB.  As such many fans have overlooked Blake in favor of the current #3 QB, RS Freshman Alec Morris.  Alec definitely looks the part as a 6’3” 230lb strong-armed kid out of Texas.  Alec is a kid that has all the tools to be a successful QB.  Alec played for the highly regarded Coach Tom Westerberg and also received personal training from QB Coach Kevin Murray.  Both Coaches are huge names in Texas HS Football and in a bit of irony, both are former Aggies… Go Figure.

Alec Morris (courtesy

Alec was extremely successful as a 3000 yard passer in Division 5A (the highest classification in Texas), but was rated a 3-Star recruit coming out of High School.  As a senior he led his team to an undefeated regular season, but they lost in the 2nd round of the playoffs.  Alec is a natural leader and a winner, but he still has not been able to capture the backup spot from Blake.  As such, the forever impatient Alabama fan-base has looked to some of the even younger guys as hope for the future.

Enter the true Freshmen QB’s: Cooper Bateman (6’3” 195lb), Parker McLeod (6’3” 190lb), and Preferred Walk-On Luke Del Rio (6’1” 205lb).  Bateman, as an extremely athletic high 4-Star recruit was one of the gems of the 2012 Class as he was also an Under-Armour All-American and an Elite 11 QB Camp finalist.  Alabama fans were extremely excited about Bateman, however expectations were tempered as he was coming from the State of Utah, and everyone knew that it would take some time for him to adjust to the speed at the SEC level.

Cooper Bateman (courtesy

Shortly after the commitment of Bateman, Alabama also accepted the commitment from 3-Star QB Parker McLeod out of Georgia.  McLeod was in a unique situation as he played for the same High School team as blue chip RB and fellow Alabama commit Tyren Jones, so Alabama fans were intrigued to see what the tandem could do at Walton High School in Georgia.  Unfortunately, McLeod dealt with an injury plagued senior season and didn’t see much action.  He enrolled at Alabama with a couple of question marks.  Why would Alabama take a kid that barely played in his senior season, and why does Alabama need a 2nd QB with Bateman already on board?  The speculation is that McLeod visibly outperformed Bateman head to head at one of the Alabama summer camps and earned his offer in grand fashion.

Parker McLeod (courtesy

To further cloud the QB situation, a 3rd QB came into the picture late in the recruiting cycle.  Luke Del Rio, son of veteran NFL Coach Jack Del Rio, decided that he would take a strong look at walking on at Alabama, even though he had multiple BCS-level scholarship offers (including UCLA, Oklahoma State, and Oregon State) on the table.  Del Rio was also an Elite 11 finalist, so his decision to walk on at Alabama caught the attention of the entire recruiting world.

All three freshmen enrolled in January and seem to have a healthy but competitive relationship.  Each of them has spent time with the scout team, but Del Rio actually travelled as the emergency QB for the game against Texas A&M.  He also had a prominent role in the final fall scrimmage, so he appears at this point to be ahead of his classmates.  ESPN NFL Analyst Trent Dilfer says, “The one thing you understand about Luke is this (a) guy with a high football IQ that can absolutely rip it.”  Elite 11 Camp Director Brain Stumpf adds, “Every time you see him throw, you like Luke Del Rio a lot more and what he can do with the football coming out of his hands, because it pops out of his hands.  He’s got a big time arm, he’s accurate, and he’s competitive.”

Luke Del Rio (courtesy

Some people may look at the high praise and ask why the kid was only a 3-Star coming out of HS.  The concern here is actually his size, as he’s only 6’1”.  A mobile dual threat QB can get by with being that size since bootlegs and a rolling pocket can provide sufficient throwing lanes.  Del Rio is a true pocket passer, and I would argue that if he was 6’3” like his classmates, he would be rated in the same range as Bateman, if not higher.  He also gets a boost in the intangibles department from being an NFL coach’s son, as he has been around the game at its highest levels for his entire life.  He was likely the most college ready of the 3 incoming QB’s and it appears that the other guys are still playing catchup.

Alabama entered this season with 5 scholarship QB’s along with 1 extremely talented Freshman walk-on.  However no one has an idea of who will be the QB when the 2014 season kicks off.  Stay tuned for part 2 of the QB breakdown where we discuss some of the guys that are not on campus yet, including a hotshot 2015 prospect from the West Coast.  Also, remember to keep checking The Houndztooth for the latest information and conversation regarding all things Alabama…