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Blake Sims, The maturation of an Alabama quarterback

Success isn’t given or guaranteed. It’s accomplished through hard work, focus, determination and heart. Former Alabama quarterback Blake Sims has been given a chance to tryout for the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted rookie free agent. He’s expressed his feelings via Twitter and is excited about the opportunity. Sims looks forward to the next chapter of his career, but he hasn’t forgotten the coach and fan base that’s showed him love and appreciation in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Sims considers Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban a father figure. In his heartfelt letter to the University of Alabama, Sims said that he came to Tuscaloosa to become a man.

“When he was recruiting me, Coach Saban gave me his word that when I left, I would leave a grown man with a degree,” Sims said.

Sims said words can’t express how much Saban has taught him about life and how much better he’s prepared for success than when he first arrived on campus.

“Whenever I was wrong, he [Saban] let me know “Blake that is not the way that a man acts. That’s not how a professional quarterback acts,” Sims said.

To the Alabama fans, Sims wrote “keep being the best fanbase in the country. Trust in Coach Saban and whoever he starts at any position. Believe in that player as you have believed in me.”

As Blake Sims leaves with a classy letter, yours truly of Touchdown Alabama Magazine has compiled some highlight moments from Sims’s senior year at Alabama.

The 2014 offseason

Blake Sims vs. Jake Coker

Blake Sims vs. Jake Coker

The 2014 offseason was a trying time for Blake Sims. He ended his junior year with 167 passing yards and two touchdowns in eight games. Sims was AJ McCarron’s backup, but he wanted to prove that he could lead Alabama’s offense as a starting quarterback. He had an opportunity to position himself as the starter in the 2014 A-Day game. Two interceptions and numerous dropped balls made the situation look bleak for Sims, yet he remained confident. Sports writers raved about Florida State transfer Jake Coker, but Sims stayed focused. He worked on his mechanics as a passer throughout the spring, and returned in the summer to battle for the job.

The arms of Sims, Coker, Alec Morris, Cooper Bateman and David Cornwell were firing darts in the heat. Sims and Coker separated themselves as the duel forged on. The two wrestled for position, until Sims won the job in the final week of summer practice/fall camp.

All eyes on him: The 2014 season

Blake Sims, UA vs. Florida

Blake Sims, UA vs. Florida

 

Blake Sims’s style of athleticism and quick passes brought Alabama fans to their feet in 2014, but it took them a while to notice it. He guided the Crimson Tide to a 33-23 victory over West Virginia in a wire-to-wire season opener. His performance against Florida in Alabama’s Southeastern Conference opener became the first domino of excitement.

Questions were raised as to whether Sims could throw an exceptional deep ball or not. He provided an answer in Alabama’s first offensive possession against the Gators. Sims completed a pass to running back Kenyan Drake that resulted in an 87-yard touchdown. He would go on to shred Florida’s secondary, completing 23 of 33 passes for 445 yards with four touchdowns.

Alabama’s defense was told that Texas A&M’s quarterback Kenny Hill would be the best signal caller it would face all season. Alabama’s defense smothered Hill, while Sims torched the Aggies’ secondary. He connected on 16 of 27 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns. Sims’s athletic abilities proved special in the second quarter. He carried the ball on a zone read, and made three defenders miss enroute to a 43-yard touchdown.

Blake Sims, UA vs. LSU

Blake Sims, UA vs. LSU

Sims engineered game-saving drives in Alabama’s wins over Tennessee and Mississippi State, but there is nothing like defeating a heated rival on the road in overtime. With Tiger fans screaming down his neck, Sims delivered a 9-play, 55-yard drive with 50 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to force overtime in Baton Rouge, La. The drive featured passes to tight end O.J. Howard, along with receivers Christion Jones and DeAndrew White. Sims returned in the overtime period, and fired a 6-yard touchdown pass to White in the corner of the end zone. The score gave Alabama a 20-13 lead, and it resulted as the final score of the game.

Toughness Prevails

Resiliency is one of Sims’s best traits. He came to Alabama in 2010, as a talented athlete from Gainesville, Ga. Sims was featured at running back, wide receiver and quarterback for Alabama, and didn’t complain when he had to wait for his time to shine.

His toughness came full circle in the team’s 79th Iron Bowl meeting against Auburn. Sims threw three interceptions in the first half. Coker started to get loose, but Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin stuck with Sims. He entered the second half relaxed, confident and played with a sense of urgency. Sims totaled five touchdowns in the second half, including two touchdown passes to Amari Cooper. Alabama outscored Auburn in the second half 34-18, and won the game 55-44.

The 2014 SEC Championship Game

Blake Sims, SEC Champs

Blake Sims, SEC Champs

The Georgia native put everything together in his return home in the 2014 SEC Championship Game. Fans inside the Georgia Dome in Atlanta saw Sims complete 85.2 percent of his passes (23/27) for 262 yards with two touchdowns. His 85.2 percent completion rating set an SEC title game record. Sims’s 58-yard touchdown pass to DeAndrew White was spot on. White ran a perfect route, and Sims put the ball on target despite being clobbered by Missouri’s defensive end Shane Ray. Alabama won its 24th conference title, defeating Missouri 42-13.

Blake Sims’s Accomplishments

Blake Sims and his daughter Kyla

Blake Sims and his daughter Kyla

He didn’t win a national championship, but Blake Sims accomplished a lot as a one-year starting quarterback. He holds the school record for passing yards in a single season (3,487). His performances against LSU and Mississippi State caused many to have him as a dark horse in the 2014 Heisman Trophy race, Sims’s 445 passing yards against Florida was the second-most inside Bryant-Denny Stadium since 1969 (Scott Hunter, 484 against Auburn).

Sims’s 5-year-old daughter Kyla summed up her father’s maturation process in three words, “Daddy did good.” She said this to CBS’s sideline reporter Allie LaForce, after Alabama’s win over Missouri. Her words tie into Sims as being a good father, athlete and student. Sims graduated school, prior to the 2014 season.

Sims’s Future

Sims was a one-year starter at Alabama, but apparently that was enough to attract Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson. Thompson extended his hand to Sims and offered him a chance to compete at the Packers’ rookie mini-camp session next week. If it bodes well, then Sims will sign a contract with Green Bay as a undrafted rookie free agent. He would join former Alabama players Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Eddie Lacy, Adrian Hubbard and Cody Mandell.

Blake Sims probably won’t gone down in history as a top 10 Alabama quarterback; however, he holds a place in Tuscaloosa as a fan favorite. His hands and feet were enshrined on the Denny Chimes Walk of Fame on April 18, 2015. Sims’s letter to the University of Alabama can be found on al.com, Bleacher Report and Saturday Down South.

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