It was one season with Blake Sims. Now, Alabama finds itself back at square one, locating a quarterback. Sims completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 3,487 yards, 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2014. He guided the team to a Southeastern Conference title and an appearance in the inaugural College Football Playoff.
Five quarterbacks remain, as Sims now pursues a career in the National Football League. The spot appears to be Jake Coker’s to lose for a second straight season, but Alec Morris has the most experience in the system.
Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban selects his quarterbacks on five aspects; decision-making, arm strength, accuracy, management and character. Here is a breakdown of the five players that will battle to earn a starting role as Alabama’s next quarterback.
Jake Coker, RS Junior, (6-5/230)
Jake Coker was an object of conversation in the 2014 offseason. The Florida State transfer came to Alabama on the heels of its 11-2 finish in 2013. It was perceived by many sports writers that Coker would be Alabama’s starting quarterback. A lack of time to process the system, coupled with a knee injury, kept him from doing it in 2014.
Coker was a backup to EJ Manuel and Jameis Winston in three seasons at Florida State. He completed 21 of 41 passes for 295 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
A former three-star prospect, Coker showed signs of promise running a pro-style offense in high school. He accounted for 1,863 total yards and 21 touchdowns in his tenure at St. Paul’s Episcopal High School (Mobile, Ala.).
Coker has a year of experience in the system, and will enter spring practice healthy. He possesses a strong arm, but has a ways to go in decision-making. Decision-making skills and team chemistry both will determine Coker’s fate as a starting quarterback at Alabama.
Alec Morris, Junior, (6-3/230)
Alec Morris enters his third season as an Alabama quarterback. He and Ex-Crimson Tide player, Luke Del Rio both were huddled around former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron in 2013. Alabama fans got its first glimpse of Morris in the 2013 A-Day game. He completed 10 of 18 passes for 141 yards. Morris displayed solid arm strength, and was able to command the huddle.
He has spent two years on the practice squad, but Morris is excited about the upcoming season. He has an opportunity to become the next signal caller for the Crimson Tide.
Morris was the lone quarterback signed in Alabama’s 2012 recruiting class. A former three-star recruit, Morris was an electrifying athlete at Allen, Texas. He tossed for 5,776 yards and 57 touchdowns. Morris rushed for 545 yards and 30 scores in his career at Allen High School.
Cooper Bateman, RS Sophomore (6-3/215)
Cooper Bateman has vastly improved since entering Alabama in 2013. Contrasting statistics from Alabama’s 2013 and 2014 A-Day games prove it. Bateman completed 1 of 3 passes for three yards and two interceptions in the 2013 spring game. He returned as a redshirt freshman, posting 156 yards and a touchdown on 11/24 passing in the 2014 exhibition matchup.
Bateman’s arm strength is progressing, but he needs to continue improving his footwork in the pocket. He excelled on special teams and as a scout team quarterback in 2014.
Bateman was one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in the 2013 recruiting class. He was a consensus four-star prospect that ESPN rated as the No.3 pocket passer nationally. Bateman was known as a dual threat quarterback at Cottonwood High School (Murray, Utah). He recorded 7,654 passing yards and 68 touchdowns. Bateman totaled 12 rushing scores in his career.
David Cornwell, Sophomore, (6-5/234)
Sports writers had a man crush on David Cornwell. His size labeled him as a “can’t miss” talent coming from Norman, Okla. He missed the second half of his senior season at Norman North High School (knee), but Cornwell is a special player.
A former Elite 11 finalist, Cornwell enrolled early at Alabama as a four-star prospect. He was one of the top pro-style quarterback nationally, as 247 Sports ranked him third. Cornwell tossed for 2,742 yards and 27 touchdowns as a junior. He rushed for 755 yards and six touchdowns.
Cornwell’s learning the playbook and building team chemistry. He has a strong arm, and started hitting receivers in stride at practice late in the season. Health and decision-making remain obstacles for Cornwell. He will emerge if he tightens up on his reads and stays healthy.
Blake Barnett, Freshman, (6-5/200)
Biblical proportions say a child will lead them. How prepared is Blake Barnett to make this statement a reality? He has a chance to prove himself in the spring. Barnett provides Alabama’s roster with its third 6-foot-5 quarterback. The California native was a sight to see at Santiago High School.
Barnett threw for 1,597 yards and 13 touchdowns in six games. He put in a masterful performance against Corona High School, completing 14 of 17 passes for 256 yards and five touchdowns. Barnett is dangerous as a runner, but his passing abilities are what intrigues Alabama’s offensive coordinator, Lane Kiffin.
Kiffin’s system fits the five-star prospect perfectly. It requires a signal caller with a strong arm, high decision-making skills and mobility, to which Barnett has all three. Saban may redshirt him for future purposes, but Barnett will play in the 2015 spring game.