Alabama's quarterback battle won't begin in earnest until Florida State quarterback Jacob Coker arrives this summer, but senior Blake Sims has been busy this spring setting a high bar.
Sims, a 6'0", 202-pounder from Gainesville, Ga., who was more known as a dual-threat quarterback than a pocket passer throughout his Crimson Tide career, has been busy lighting up stat sheets through the air this spring.
He completed 24 of 39 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns during Alabama's scrimmage Saturday, keeping momentum going as spring practice begins to wind down.
Saban was pleased with Sims' performance, according to Marquavius Burnett of the Anniston (Ala.) Star:
Saban: Blake Sims is showing a lot of command out there. Made about 3 or 4 plays with his feet today. Doing a better job in the pocket.— Marquavius Burnett (@Marq_Burnett) April 12, 2014
The strong performance comes on the heels of Alabama's first scrimmage, where Sims went 16-of-23 for 227 yards and two touchdowns. The former dual-threat quarterback isn't a run-first quarterback anymore. He has made an effort to pass first and use his athleticism as an insurance policy, and doing so has landed him in the spring spotlight.
|Alabama's QB Spring Scrimmage Statistics (two games)|
|University of Alabama|
That has left redshirt freshman Cooper Bateman, sophomore Alec Morris and the rest of the Alabama's quarterbacks in his shadow as spring comes to a close.
This raises the question, should Sims be the front-runner when Coker arrives?
He absolutely should.
There's a different between being the front-runner and the favorite. Coker is likely the favorite because, let's be real, head coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin wouldn't bring in a two-year graduate transfer unless they felt like he had upside. But Sims' strong spring absolutely has made him the man to beat in T-Town, and it will be up to Coker to do it.
Coker passed for 295 yards, one touchdown and one pick during his first two seasons in Tallahassee. But his strong arm and a quarterback battle that supposedly lasted well into fall camp with eventual Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston last August has built a big reputation for Coker to live up to.
That's a lot to live up to.
Sims' strong performance this spring has put the target on his back. Whether he wins the job or not, he seems to have upped the ante and brought stability to a position battle that was loaded with uncertainty just four weeks ago.
That's about as good as it could possibly get for Alabama's quarterbacks considering the landscape of this offseason's quarterback battle.
* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All spring game statistics are courtesy of the University of Alabama.