For the first time since the spring of 2011, Alabama is searching for a new quarterback.
With AJ McCarron gone, Blake Sims, Alec Morris, Parker McLeod, Cooper Bateman and David Cornwell will battle for the spot this spring, with Florida State transfer Jacob Coker joining the mix this summer.
Whoever wins the quarterback job, he'll have plenty of experience outside to rely on as he transitions to the starting role.
Rising junior Amari Cooper will steal the majority of the headlines, but DeAndrew White, Christion Jones, Robert Foster and Chris Black all return to Tuscaloosa and will serve as tremendous assets to the starting quarterback.
|Alabama's Leading Returning Receivers from 2013|
Cooper's career speaks for itself.
He had 999 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns as a true freshman in 2012 and followed it up with a team-high 45 catches and 736 yards as a sophomore—which could be viewed as a disappointment after his tremendous freshman campaign.
That's how good he is.
He was a big part of an equation that was one second from winning the SEC West for the second straight season. The 6'1", 202-pounder from Miami proved from day one that he's a true No. 1 and will be a nice insurance policy for the eventual winner at quarterback to fall back on.
Alongside him, there's plenty of talent to work with.
White was a solid option for McCarron last season, showing the ability to be a deep-threat or a possession receiver. The 6'0", 190-pound rising senior is reliable and also able to bail out the quarterback on errant throws, which should be expected with a new starter taking the snaps.
The highlight-reel catch above from the Georgia State game is just one of several acrobatic catches White made as a junior.
As a slot receiver in new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin's offense, I'm not sure there could be a more dangerous weapon than Jones. He's quick, shifty in space and capable of running away from even the fastest defenders. Kiffin's affinity for screen passes coupled with Jones' ability to turn them into big plays is a recipe for success for the Crimson Tide.
Black is essentially a Jones clone, Foster can be the next in line after Cooper moves on, the 6'4" Raheem Falkins is a big body that creates matchup nightmares with opposing defensive backs and tight end O.J. Howard could be one of the best tight ends in the country.
McCarron got criticized for being a "game manager," even though that's a desirable trait for any quarterback. In reality, he was a gunslinger who scaled back that mentality at times for the good of his team.
The prerequisite for any Alabama quarterback is to be a game manager.
With weapons outside that can make any quarterback look good, coupled with the deepest running back corps in the nation, the eventual starting quarterback should have no problem transitioning into the role.
If he's just as a game manager, so be it. Alabama has plenty of weapons to manage the game at an elite level. If the new quarterback is more than that, it's a bonus.
Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com.
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