Alabama Football Position Group Countdown: Limitless Potential

Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan
Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan / Ryan Kang/GettyImages
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Jalen Milroe
Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

4. Quarterback

Quarterback may be the most controversial position on the team heading into 2024. The question marks are endless: 

How will the transition from Coach Saban to Coach DeBoer affect the position? Can Jalen Milroe be penciled in as the starter, or will he have to beat out Ty Simpson and company all over again? What is the impact of adding redshirt freshman transfer QB Austin Mack, and will the Bama staff eventually regret running off 5-star recruit Julian Sayin?

We may not have answers to any of these questions until A-Day or beyond. After experiencing uncertainty at the quarterback position through fall camp and into the regular season in 2023, Alabama fans will want stability much sooner in DeBoer’s first season.

Who is QB1: Jalen Milroe or Ty Simpson?

Even with the question marks surrounding the QB situation, Bama appears to be light years ahead of where it was a year ago. Unlike last offseason, a hypothetical QB competition would feature at least one proven player with a full year of starting experience in Jalen Milroe

It would also include an older and more mature Ty Simpson. In his spot reps in 2023, Simpson showed clear improvement as the season progressed, and looked nearly ready to take the reins in appearances against Kentucky and Chattanooga.

On the other hand, Jalen Milroe showed flashes of brilliance as Alabama’s starting quarterback in 2023, particularly down the stretch. He turned in All-American caliber performances to propel the Tide to wins over Texas A&M, LSU, and Kentucky, and showed a clutch factor in wins over Auburn and Georgia. As he gained experience, he learned to take what the defense gave him, and it made him one of the better quarterbacks in the country by season’s end. 

Even with some obvious flaws, Milroe finished sixth in the 2023 Heisman Trophy voting and established himself as one of the vocal and emotional leaders of the team. For these reasons, it’s almost impossible to project him getting beat out for the starting job. Some question his “fit” in Kalen DeBoer’s system, but I’d imagine the system is flexible enough to adapt to such a rare and special athlete. 

Perhaps Ty Simpson will ultimately win the starting quarterback spot ahead of the 2024 season, but it certainly wouldn’t be by default. Simpson will have had to beat out the guy who, almost single-handedly at times, led Alabama to an SEC Championship and the College Football Playoff last season. 

Dark Horse Candidates

Even beyond Milroe and Simpson, Alabama Football is much better situated at the quarterback position heading into 2024. Redshirt freshman Dylan Lonergan saw just a handful of snaps last season, but reportedly impressed the coaching staff from spring practice onward. He has been called a natural at the QB position, and is a feisty competitor that won’t simply settle for a reserve role. 

Similarly, fellow redshirt freshman Austin Mack will try to claw his way into the QB competition this spring. Mack, a transfer from Washington, has a unique advantage over the rest of the signal-callers in his familiarity with the coaching staff and their system. Coach DeBoer and the rest of the offensive staff basically hand-picked Mack to be their next quarterback in Seattle, and then asked him to accompany them to Tuscaloosa. Clearly, the 6’6”, 225-pound youngster sits in high regard with the coaches and will have a leg up in terms of understanding the playbook.  

The quarterback position may have more talent and readiness from top to bottom than any other position on the roster. The room contains zero true freshmen after the hasty departure of Julian Sayin, meaning all of Bama’s scholarship quarterbacks have spent at least one season in a college program. Not only that, all four have experienced being part of a winning program, as they all won conference championships and reached the College Football Playoff in 2023.

The presence of Jalen Milroe alone gives the QB room a high floor and an even higher ceiling, and I would bet on him winning the job today. This position group is extremely fascinating, however, as none of its members can be fully counted out as the potential starter. 

Collectively, the three aforementioned position groups could help Alabama field one of the best offenses in the country in 2024.