Quarterbacks biggest question mark for Alabama

Transfer Coker may be favorite for starting job

Anniston StarMarch 3, 2014 

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Jacob Coker may have some big shoes to fill at Alabama. He may be the favorite to take over where former Crimson Tide QB AJ McCarron left off. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

STEPHEN M. DOWELL — MCT

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Spring practice for Alabama begins March 15. Between now and then, we'll break down what the Crimson Tide returns at each position.

Our series begins with the quarterbacks, the Tide's biggest question mark heading into the 2014 season.

Departed: AJ McCarron, Luke Del Rio (transfer)

Quarterbacks ready for spring: Blake Sims, rising senior; Alec Morris, redshirt sophomore; Cooper Bateman, redshirt freshman; Parker McLeod, redshirt freshman; David Cornwell, freshman.

Coming in the fall: Jacob Coker

Outlook: With AJ McCarron gone, Alabama is left scrambling for answers at the quarterback position. McCarron, a three-year starter, provided the Crimson Tide with great stability and leadership under center and his impact on the team will undoubtedly be missed.

But the show must go on.

Alabama has an interesting situation at the quarterback position as the guy who many expect to ultimately win the job won't be here until the summer (Coker).

Also, most quarterback competitions generally are between two, maybe three guys which makes it easier to evenly divide reps. But Nick Saban and new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin will have five players to evaluate during spring workouts.

First, there's rising senior Blake Sims. Sims is the only one of the bunch who has thrown a collegiate pass. With that said, Sims doesn't have much meaningful game experience. He only played in mop-up duty and mostly handed the ball off or ran the read option.

There was the Georgia State game in which he completed 14-of-18 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown, but the competition level is nothing compared to the SEC grind. Outside of that game, Sims didn't attempt more than four passes in any other game in 2013. So there's no real way to tell how much he is or isn't progressing. When Alabama coaches look back on last season, not getting one of its quarterbacks more experience may be one of its regrets.

Then there's Alec Morris, who wasn't redshirting last year, but only saw the field to hand the ball off in one game (Chattanooga). Heading into 2013, many thought Morris would contend for the Tide's backup quarterback spot. But he wasn't even the third quarterback as Saban said on a few occasions that Luke Del Rio was the third team guy behind McCarron and Sims.

Morris is definitely a player who'll need to make a move in spring if he hopes to ever see the field during his career with the Tide.

Cooper Bateman was a highly touted recruit out of high school, but with so many players ahead of him and the learning curve, there was no need to rush him into action. Bateman has all of the measurables, but it will be a matter of if everything comes together for him.

Very little has been said about Parker McLeod, but he'll get his fair shot to win the job.

Incoming freshman David Cornwell is likely headed for a redshirt barring something unforeseen. He's coming off a season ending knee injury and will likely be limited during spring drills.

As for Coker, while he won't be here during the spring, many feel he is the favorite to win the competition when he arrives in the summer. Coker will have an opportunity to chat with the coaching staff and also learn the plays as he finishes his academic requirements at Florida State. But nothing can simulate the live reps he'll miss in spring ball.

The winner of the spring competition should battle it out with Coker in the fall to be the Tide's next signal caller. Like it was heading into the 2011 season, Alabama's quarterback battle will be by far the most interesting one to follow this spring.

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