Being the starting quarterback at the University of Alabama is arguably one of the toughest jobs in sports. Being born and bred in the state of Alabama, AJ McCarron feels this pressure every day, from an entire state that sleeps and breathes football. Coming fresh off of his second consecutive National Championship season, McCarron is the first college football quarterback to repeat in consecutive seasons. Just recently, McCarron has declared that he will indeed return for his senior season at the University of Alabama.
As a freshman, McCarron received little playing time, starting no games at the quarterback position. Upon Greg McElroy's graduation, McCarron took the reigns of the Crimson Tide offense, and led them to a national championship in his first year as a starter. In his 2011 campaign, AJ led the tide to a 13-1 record, with their lone loss coming at the hands of LSU. Alabama ultimately avenged this loss in the national championship game shutting out the Tigers 21-0. However, while McCarron did lead the Crimson to a national championship, he did not put up mind boggling numbers, in throwing only a modest 16 touchdowns accompanied by 5 interceptions—seemingly meek statistics for a national championship caliber quarterback.
In the 2012 season, McCarron clearly elevated his level of play, in throwing for 30 touchdowns, including the four he threw in the National Championship 42-14 beat-down of Notre Dame. As great as his passing ability is, McCarron has also proven to be a viable game manager for Alabama. Often controlling the tempo and leading long, time-consuming drives, McCarron showed he is more than just an arm to the Alabama football program. He also led two notable comebacks, one being a dramatic victory over LSU at Death Valley. The other was a shootout with Georgia in the SEC Championship game.
McCarron is due to return to Tuscaloosa for his senior season, and all premature signs promote the belief that the Crimson Tide are poised for a 3rd consecutive National Championship. This would be the 3rd of AJ McCarron's tenure at the University of Alabama.
When you think of Alabama greats the likes of Kenny Stabler, Jay Barker and of course Joe Namath come to mind. Both Namath and Barker won national titles for the Crimson Tide and had very impressive records as starting quarterbacks. However, when you look at McCarron's statistics, with only 2 losses to his name thus far, he has the potential to be the winningest quarterback in Alabama history is his 2013 campaign is successful. A third national championship to his legacy would almost cement him as the most prolific quarterback in Alabama history.
While some critics claim McCarron is simply the product of a talented run game and offensive line, he has the numbers to prove his is the most battle tested quarterback in Alabama history. While the combination of Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon have opened up a variety of options in the play action pass game, McCarron has been accurate and has done everything asked of him to lead the Tide to 2 national championships in 2 years as a starter, and his will certainly be poised to make it a three-peat come 2013.