Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron is a good quarterback, and quite honestly, that is all the rising senior needs to be. Actually, at the collegiate level, that is all he will likely be, and that is perfectly all right.
Entering the summer season, the Heisman hype machines start rolling around the college football landscape. With the close of the NFL draft, the 2014 cycle comes into full view for the NFL draft analysts and fans alike. Folks are talking about the best players for the 2013 season and which teams have the best shot at taking home the crystal football.
Oregon's Marcus Mariota, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, Ohio State's Braxton Miller and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater are all being mentioned as the cream of the quarterback crop. Georgia's Aaron Murray and Clemson's Tajh Boyd are also in the mix, especially where draft conversation is concerned.
Yet, Alabama's McCarron, who seems poised to win his third national championship, is lagging behind when the NFL draft and top quarterback talk come up. His Heisman odds are among the best, but the quarterback cannot seem to elbow his way into the elite quarterback discussion.
And, quite frankly, that is A-OK.
Unlike these other quarterbacks, McCarron plays on a team that does not require him to be the guy. He does not—and most certainly should not—have to throw for more than 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns for the Crimson Tide to be in title contention. The team has a running game that crushes defenses' souls and a defense that sucks the life out of their opponent's attack.
Plus a coach who takes minimal risks and has little space for ad-libs.
Mixing all those elements results in a need for a good shepherd at the quarterback position—a field general who makes the right decisions and works the plan in the best way possible. That is exactly what you have in McCarron, and that's not a knock on the talented signal-caller.
Despite not being mentioned on the short list of elite quarterbacks, McCarron is in prime position to win the Heisman. Remember, prior to the November loss to Texas A&M, Alabama's leader was polling in the Top Five as a Heisman candidate. If the Tide had scored a touchdown on the final drive instead of McCarron tossing an interception, the SEC's returning Heisman winner might reside in Tuscaloosa.
A.J. McCarron is going to do everything that Alabama's coaching staff asks him to do. While it may not help elevate his draft stock, it will keep the Crimson Tide in title contention and, in turn, put McCarron in the same Heisman race as the quarterbacks who are asked to do more for their team.
Should he walk away with the 2013 Heisman, it won't turn him into Robert Griffin III or Johnny Manziel. He'll still be A.J. McCarron: a really good quarterback for a program that has become a modern-day dynasty.