A Look Into Nick Saban’s Crème de la Crème: Alabama Quarterbacks
Recalling the moments after the 2013 season, Alabama’s National Title-holding quarterback AJ McCarron triumphantly ended his collegiate career, Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide was set with a daunting task – the search for a new centre-stage commander. Top prospects like Blake Barnett, Cooper Bateman, and David Cornwell, were queued up for becoming the new torchbearer.
An Intriguing Twist
Kicking off the season opener against Southern California, Barnett was Saban’s first choice but eventually, the young freshman Jalen Hurts replaced him. Though their season opener started on a wobbly note with Hurts fumbling his first snap, this twist in the tale led to a crushing 52-6 victory for Alabama at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The envisioned leaders of the Crimson Tide sought new frontiers. Barnett, after a stint at Palomar College, found his place with Arizona State and later South Florida. Bateman ended up at Utah, while Cornwell played a single game in 2017 for Nevada.
Redefining Alabama’s Quarterback Legacy
While these were intriguing stories, they were not defining Alabama’s quarterback legacy. The past years have given us four magnificent quarterbacks for the Crimson Tide in succession, all of them being first or second-round draft selections for the NFL. All of them managed to place in the top three of the Heisman Trophy voting; Bryce Young even clenched the award in 2021.
Revisting The Best Alabama Quarterbacks under Nick Saban
Delving deeper into Saban’s Alabama era, the top five quarterback prospects on joining the Crimson Tide have been: Bryce Young (2020), Ty Simpson (2022), Tua Tagovaolia (2017), David Cornwell (2014), and Phillip Sims (2010). Proving their mettle over the years, these players have consistently been in the limelight.
Not Just About Throwing Yards
It’s a common misconception that the annual NCAA passing champion is crowned based on the yards thrown. Rather it’s about the passer rating. In this sense, Mac Jones (2020) led with a rating of 203.1, followed by Tua Tagovailoa (2018) with 199.4. Other impressive performers include AJ McCarron (2012), Greg McElroy (2010), and Bryce Young (2021), all boasting excellent ratings.
Stellar Wins and Honours
Saban’s Crimson Tide Quarterbacks have amassed a sterling collection of awards and honors over the years. Their wins include Bryce Young’s Heisman Trophy in 2021 and Tua Tagovailoa’s Walter Camp Player of the Year 2018 award. Renowned awards like the Maxwell Award and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm have also seen winners from Alabama.
Saban’s Era and the NFL Draft
Saban’s tenure has produced six draft selections for the NFL, including Bryce Young (Carolina Panthers, first overall), Tua Tagovailoa (Miami Dolphins, fifth overall), and Mac Jones (New England Patriots, 15th overall). The list also includes Jalen Hurts, AJ McCarron, and Greg McElroy.
The Undeniable Top Five
Ranking the contributions and stellar performances from these quarterbacks, the definitive top five have to be Bryce Young, Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones, Jalen Hurts, and AJ McCarron. These athletes have truly embodied the spirit and excellence of Alabama’s Crimson Tide under the leadership of Nick Saban.
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