AJ McCarron's entire career at Alabama has been about team achievements, concerned with SEC Championship banners and national title rings. But he won't be leaving Tuscaloosa without some individual honors to boot.
According to Transamerica, McCarron was awarded the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award on Monday, officially being named the best senior quarterback in America:
McCarron finished the regular season with 2,676 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and five interceptions, placing No. 8 nationally with a QB rating of 165.88. His Heisman chances seem slim after the heartbreaking loss to Auburn—even though Florida State freshman Jameis Winston would have been a near-lock to win either way—but at least the fifth-year quarterback has received some recognition for his fabulous season and career.
Other finalists for the Unitas Award included Georgia's Aaron Murray, Fresno State's Derek Carr, Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch and Clemson's Tajh Boyd. Even without Heisman-hopeful underclassmen like Winston and Johnny Manziel, that is a solid field of competitors.
McCarron didn't back into this hardware.
Like last year's winner, Collin Klein of Kansas State, a late-season loss kept McCarron out of the BCS National Championship Game. No doubt he would trade this hardware in for a chance to win his third consecutive national title—and fourth overall if you count his redshirt year in 2009.
But no matter how dominant Alabama has been, sometimes the stars just aren't aligned. McCarron will still go down as one of the most successful—albeit highly controversial—quarterbacks in college football history, despite the dreaded label of being a "game manager."
Game managers don't win trophies like this one.