Regardless of the program, it takes a lot to excel at the quarterback position in college football. Aside from tossing the pigskin, quarterbacks must demonstrate leadership on and off the field. Above all, winning is the most important aspect; especially in championship games.
In its career, Alabama has had some of the best quarterbacks in the game. From Bryan “Bart” Starr to AJ McCarron, the Crimson Tide has managed to recruit quarterbacks that have achieved success. Though some have accomplished more than others, here is a list of the top 10 quarterbacks that have come through the Capstone.
Top 10 Alabama Quarterbacks of All-Time
10. Andrew Zow (1998-01)
- Zow was the definition of a warrior and a team player.
- He became the third freshman to start at Alabama since 1984.
- Despite splitting time with John David Phillips and Tyler Watts, Zow rescued and won many games for Alabama.
- Under Mike DuBose and Dennis Franchonie, Zow guided Alabama to three bowl seasons (1998: Music City Bowl, 1999: Orange Bowl, 2001: Independence Bowl)
- Zow’s freshman and senior seasons were his best.
- He passed for 1,969 yards and 11 touchdowns as freshman. Zow had 654 passing yards with six touchdown and two interceptions as a senior.
- In his tenure at Alabama, Zow guided the Tide to victory over Auburn in three of his four seasons.
9. Tyler Watts (1999-02)
- He doesn’t get a lot of credit, but Watts was a weapon for Alabama.
- As an option style quarterback, Watts totaled 1,128 yards rushing and nine touchdowns for his career.
- His aerial attack excelled in his junior and senior seasons.
- In 2001, Watts passed for 1,325 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions.
- In 2002, he completed 61.9 percent of his passes for 1,414 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions.
- Though he split time with Andrew Zow, Watts led Alabama to a 10-3 season in 2002.
8. John Parker Wilson (2005-08)
- Like Watts, Wilson didn’t get a lot of credit; however, he came through when Alabama needed him.
- Wilson entered Alabama when the Tide was under sanctions.
- His best passing seasons were in 2006 and 2007.
- As a sophomore, Wilson recorded 2,707 passing yards and 17 touchdowns.
- In his junior season, he had 2,846 passing yards and 18 touchdowns.
- Under Nick Saban, Wilson guided the Tide to an undefeated regular season in 2008.
- Wilson held every significant passing record in history (7,924 passing yards, 47 touchdowns).
7. Greg McElroy (2006-10)
- He was labeled a game manager, but he showed a lot of leadership and play making ability as a quarterback.
- His finest seasons passing were in 2009 and 2010.
- In 2009, McElroy completed 60.6 percent of his passes for 2,508 yards, 17 touchdowns and four interceptions.
- As a senior, he completed 70.9 percent of his passes for 2,987 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions.
- McElroy became the first quarterback to win a Southeastern Conference title and a national title in the Saban era at Alabama.
- He finished his career at Alabama posting a record of 24-3 as a starter.
6. Mike Shula (1984-86)
- He didn’t have the strongest arm and he wasn’t very mobile, but Shula was known for his guts and moxie as an Alabama quarterback.
- Under head coach Ray Perkins, Shula posted a career record of 34-11-1 as a starter.
- His best season passing was in 1985.
- As a sophomore, Shula completed 60.6 percent of his passes for 2,009 yards and 16 touchdowns.
- He led Alabama to victories in the Aloha Bowl and Sun Bowl.
- He led game-winning drives against Ohio State, Southern California and Norte Dame.
- Shula engineered last minute comeback victories against Georgia and Auburn (1985).
5. AJ McCarron (2009-13)
- Like McElroy, McCarron was labeled as a game manager, but possessed the talents of being an effective quarterback.
- McCarron’s passing statistics improved each season he was under center.
- In 2011, McCarron completed 66.8 percent of his passes for 2,634 yards, 16 touchdowns and five interceptions.
- His finest season through the air came in 2012.
- As a junior, McCarron completed 67.2 percent of his passes for 2,933 yards, 30 touchdowns and three interceptions.
- He passed for 3,063 yards, 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions as a senior,
- McCarron finished his career as Alabama’s passing record holder ( 9,019 yards passing, 77 touchdowns, 15 interceptions)
- He posted a 36-4 record as a starter.
- McCarron is the winningest quarterback in Tide history (two SEC titles, three BCS titles).
- He took home the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and the Maxwell Award in 2013.
- McCarron finished second in the Heisman voting in 2013.
4. David Smith (1985-88)
- Under head coach Bill Curry, Smith didn’t come on strong until his senior season.
- As a senior, Smith guided the Tide to a No. 17 ranking in the polls (1988)
- Smith led Alabama to a 9-3 season and a Sun Bowl victory over Army 29-28.
- He completed 60.5 percent of his passes for 1,592 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior.
3. Walter Lewis (1980-83)
- Under coaches Paul Bryant and Ray Perkins, Lewis’s best season passing was in 1981.
- As a sophomore, he passed for 633 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions.
- In 1981, Lewis led the Tide to a 28-17 victory over Auburn.
- He guided Alabama to three bowl season in 1981-83 and posted win in the Liberty Bowl (21-15 against Illinois) and Sun Bowl (28-7 over No. 6 SMU)
- He was the first African-American to play for the Crimson Tide.
- Lewis was a dual threat quarterback.
- For his career, he totaled 1,442 yards rushing with 13 touchdowns.
2. Patrick “Pat” Trammell (1959-61)
- He was the first quarterback to begin the Bryant era.
- Trammell’s best season passing was in 1961.
- He recorded 1,035 passing yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions.
- He totaled 1,119 yards rushing with 15 touchdowns in his career.
- He posted a career record of 26-2-4 as a starter.
- He led Alabama to its first national title under Bryant in 1961.
- Trammell holds the career record for lowest interception percentage. He tossed just four interceptions in 225 pass attempts (1.8 percent).
1A. Kenneth “Ken” Stabler (1964-67)
- Stabler received little playing time, despite being on the 1964-65 championship teams.
- His finest passing season came in 1966.
- Stabler completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 956 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions.
- He led Alabama to an undefeated 11-0 season in 1966. The season was capped off with a 34-7 rout of Nebraska in the Sugar Bowl.
- Stabler will be ever remembered for his play against Auburn in the 1967 Iron Bowl.
- In rainy, muggy conditions, Stabler ran in the mud for a 53-yard touchdown to defeat the Tigers 7-3. The play lives on in Alabama’s Hall of Fame as the “Run in the Mud.”
- Stabler finished his career posting a 28-3-2 record as an Alabama quarterback.
- Joseph “Joe” Namath (1962-64)
- Namath was the second quarterback under Bryant.
- His best passing seasons were in 1962 and 1964.
- In 1962, Namath passed for 1,192 yards and 13 touchdowns.
- In 1964, he completed 64.0 percent of his passes for 756 yards and five touchdowns.
- He totaled 655 yards rushing in his career.
- Namath guided Alabama to a national title in 1964.
- He finished his career posting a 29-4 record as a starter.
Honorable Mentions: Jay Barker, Gary Hollingsworth and Brodie Croyle
Under head coach Gene Stallings, Jay Barker played for Alabama from 1991-94. He led the Tide to an SEC title in 1992, defeating Florida 28-21. Alabama went onto win a national title in the same season, defeating Miami 34-13. Barker’s finest passing season was in 1994. He completed 61.5 percent of his passes for 1,996 yards, 14 touchdowns and five interceptions. Barker finished fifth in the Heisman voting in 1994 and finished his career recording a 35-2-1 record as a starter.
Under head coach Bill Curry, Gary Hollingsworth led Alabama to a 10-2 season in 1989. The Tide became Co-Champions of the SEC and appeared in the 1990 Sugar Bowl against Miami. Hollingsworth completed 60.5 percent of his passes for 2,379 yards and 14 touchdowns in 1989.
Brodie Croyle battled knee injuries, but played well in his senior season. Under head coach Mike Shula, Croyle passed for 2,499 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions in 2005. He led Alabama to a 10-2 season, a No.8 national ranking and a 13-10 victory over Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl Classic. Croyle was a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
In conclusion, the Crimson Tide has had many successful quarterbacks. The lone thing this program and its fan base want for sure is that this trend continues.