As freshman, they started out as backup quarterbacks. They saw limited action and achieved their first interceptions and touchdowns (passing and rushing). Of the four, two of them have won national championships. If there was one way each of them managed to improve, it would have to be the fact that they gained leadership and determination and followed their successors. For example, McElroy, a 3-star quarterback, stood in the shadow of Wilson, another 3-star quarterback, in his freshman year. His experience on and off the field and from observing Wilson in action gave him the chance to see how he can improve as a quarterback while learning some new things. He played as backup quarterback for Wilson in 2007 before becoming a starter in 2009. He gained the biggest achievement of winning a national championship in the 2009 season and led the team to an easy victory 49-7 against Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl the following season.
McCarron played eight games as quarterback in the 2010 season, totaling 389 yards passing and three touchdowns as the backup to McElroy. McCarron went on to win back-to-back national championships and led the nation with a passing efficiency of 175.3. He is 25-2 as the starting quarterback.
Another way everything became possible for them was they had the right amount of guidance from a head coach. In 2005, the Crimson Tide was lead by head coach Mike Shula and Croyle started all 12 games. Shula’s roller coaster ride as head coach didn’t stop Croyle from achieving a 10-2 record and winning the 2006 Cotton Bowl. The following season made it hard for John Parker Wilson and the team to find consistency as they ended with a 6-7 record, losing every road game of the season. Shula showed he couldn’t find the perfect balance with the team, so he was terminated from Alabama. The following year everything began to change for all three quarterbacks with the arrival of current head coach, Nick Saban. With Saban, Wilson finished his last season with an undefeated record in the 2008 regular season, but two loses (Florida: SEC Championship, Utah: Sugar Bowl) in the postseason. McElroy had records in 2009 that were the best in school history, including 2,508 yards and a 60.9 percentage of completed passes; as he went on to win the national championship. Meanwhile, McCarron won back-to-back national championships in 2011 and last year while creating records of his own. With his last season as the Crimson Tide’s quarterback, there is a possibility of winning a third consecutive championship in the works.
Whether it’s determination, leadership, the right guide, being a follower or all of the above is the main reason Alabama manages to succeed in the last few seasons without a 5-star quarterback, the Crimson Tide never gives up and it finds ways to achieve its goals.