Blake Sims having fun competing for Tide quarterback job

Anniston StarApril 2, 2014 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama's quarterback battle promises to be the most discussed topic surrounding the team this offseason, but on Wednesday, one of the Crimson Tide's five signal callers currently on campus was finally able to give his take on the competition.

Senior Blake Sims met with reporters following practice and tried to sum up each quarterback's mood as best he could.

"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity," Sims said. "I'm having fun out there. Everybody's smiling. Everybody's having fun. Just trying to do what we've got to do to be the best."

Sims said each player is too focused on learning the playbook, gaining chemistry with receivers and other responsibilities that come with the position to truly view it as a competition. But he did admit there is more of a sense of urgency for him this offseason.

"I've been sitting down eating with teammates to see what they see here and there and what they see when they're in this predicament or when they're not in that predicament," Sims said. "And just trying to sit down with coaches and see what they're seeing that I'm not seeing. So when I'm out there I see it and I can pick up on it faster."

As individuals, each quarterback brings a different skill set and measurables to the table. Sims is 6-foot-0, 208 pounds. Redshirt sophomore Alec Morris is 6-3, 230 pounds while redshirt freshmen Cooper Bateman and Parker McLeod are both listed at 6-3, weighing 215 and 200, respectively. At 6-5, 234 pounds, freshman David Cornwell is bigger than a few of the Tide's linebackers. He's still recovering from knee surgery and it is unclear how much he'll participate in scrimmages and A-Day on April 19.

Sims and Morris lead the group followed by McLeod and Bateman with Cornwell throwing to the tight ends during the media's viewing period.

Tide senior safety Nick Perry faces the quarterbacks on a daily basis."It's going to be a good competition," Perry said. "We have four or five good guys who are getting the reps. You have Blake Sims who is an experienced guy. Then you have Alec Morris who is a gunslinger. You have Bateman, who's more of a Greg McElroy type, AJ McCarron type. It's going to be a good competition so be prepared for it."

As for Sims in particular, Perry said he's a "dangerous" player."There are two plays with Blake: the one they call on offense and then when that one doesn't go right, it's the one he makes with his feet," Perry said. "We've seen that in college football and even in the NFL with players like Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel. He's a dangerous player."

In his quest to become a more complete quarterback, Sims said he's improved his footwork and is getting used to taking snaps under center. During spring break, Sims traveled to Florida for four days to work with private quarterback coach Ken Mastrole.

Sims said his footwork and accuracy improved and that he hopes to work with Mastrole again. Sims will have all offseason to work out the kinks. He knows he has a long way to go and said he's ready to put in the work.

Tide coach Nick Saban said Sims' development as a pocket passer is still "a work in progress."

"I think that that's one thing that we want to evaluate and know that he needs to progress in is his ability to be a more consistent passer, especially in the system that we implement now," Saban said.

The Tide is a long way from declaring a winner as the competition will likely drag into the season unless someone emerges as the clear cut favorite. Saban has stated that he's in no rush to name AJ McCarron's successor and that others shouldn't be either.

"It's all about playing winning football and that's something you can evaluate in practice every day and I think that a lot of our guys that we have have ability, they don't have a lot of experience and it would be a work in progress all spring to see how they develop," Saban said. "When we have scrimmages maybe some of the guys that we have practice well will struggle a little more. Maybe the other guys will play a little better in the scrimmage.

"So it's going to be a long time in us developing those players, not being so quick to criticize or quick to try to make a judgement or a decision on any one particular player but to continue to try to have the patience to develop those guys into the kind of guys that can play winning football for us."

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