Alabama Football: A different kind of QB competition

Tennessee v Alabama
Tennessee v Alabama / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Alabama Football will have competition at the quarterback position once again this spring. 

Some of the faces in the running will be familiar; redshirt junior Jalen Milroe, redshirt sophomore Ty Simpson, and redshirt freshman Dylan Lonergan all participated in spring ball last year and will return to the Capstone in 2024. 

Some of the names, however, are new. Tyler Buchner and Eli Holstein hit the portal and exited the Bama QB room, while Washington transfer Austin Mack is a talented and welcome addition. 

Last spring, Jalen Milroe won the starting quarterback job. While the learning curve was fairly steep and Milroe had to adjust on the fly, he eventually developed into one of the nation’s top signal-callers. He turned in a 35-touchdown season, became a Heisman contender, and made several extraordinary plays to salvage what should’ve been disasters. In a normal world, this performance would all but guarantee Milroe the starting job in 2024. In reality, he will have to earn it all over again.

Ty Simpson has a high ceiling as a passer and, while he isn’t quite Milroe in terms of explosiveness, does not lack any mobility or athleticism. Simpson’s confidence was clearly growing towards the latter end of 2023, and he will head into the spring with momentum. The introduction of Bama’s new coaching staff, including head coach Kalen DeBoer and offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb, further wipes the slate clean between these two quarterbacks. 

Behind Milroe and Simpson, the upside of Dylan Lonergan and Austin Mack makes the QB room even more fascinating. It would be surprising if either of these two make a push for the starting job, but one of them will become the long-term answer for Bama at QB.

Alabama Football: A different kind of QB competition

Although Bama is facing some uncertainty at the sport’s most important position for the second consecutive offseason, this year feels a lot different. 

Last year’s quarterback controversy featured a collection of unproven players, who, for the entirety of the offseason, failed to instill confidence in the coaching staff. This year, the QB room is anything but underwhelming.

For starters, it returns a proven commodity in Jalen Milroe. Milroe certainly had his flaws in year one as a starter, but he showed immense amounts of promise and only figures to continue to improve. At different moments, Milroe was arguably the most electric quarterback in the country both as a passer and as a runner. As the season progressed, he showed the leadership skills necessary to be the face of the locker room. 

Milroe’s development gives the Bama QB room a baseline that it simply did not have last spring. Ideally, he will continue his steep upward trajectory and contend for the Heisman Trophy once again. 

If Ty Simpson is able to overtake Milroe, it will be because he did just that. Milroe isn’t going to lose the job, and Simpson won’t be handed the keys to Kalen DeBoer’s offense by default.

Regardless of how the spring competition shakes out, DeBoer and Grubb figure to have a high-caliber player at the helm of the offense in 2024.