Alabama Football News

It’s important the quarterback competition lasts until fall camp for Alabama, here’s why

Bryce Young attempting to throw a pass at Alabama fall practice
Photo by Kent Gidley of Alabama Athletics

We have reached a point where one cannot go on social media without seeing something about Alabama’s quarterback competition on the football field.

Bryce Young and Paul Tyson are fierce competitors.

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The former five-star from California and the great-grandson of Paul “Bear” Bryant are in a race to be the starting signal-caller. Both were behind Mac Jones last season, but the two are pushing each other in a quest to lead the Crimson Tide to repeat as national champions. Nick Saban said Young is ‘a little ahead’ of everyone else, and the true sophomore showed it in the team’s first scrimmage. He accounted for four touchdowns, and Saban said he was accurate with the ball and made some explosive plays.

This weekend, Tyson will have a shot to answer in the second game-like practice.


Paul Tyson throwing a pass at Alabama spring practice

3/27/21 MFB Practice
Alabama quarterback Paul Tyson (17)
Photo by Robert Sutton
3/27/21 MFB Practice
Alabama quarterback Paul Tyson (17)
Photo by Robert Sutton

Both individuals were playmakers in high school; however, Young is the favorite by most to win the job.

Quarterback competitions have served Saban well at Alabama since 2009. During this time period, the Tide has had only two situations where it was not a major competition after spring. Despite people wanting to see Star Jackson excel in 2009, it was not meant to be.

Greg McElroy proved to be better, and he dominated the A-Day game. McElroy went on to lead Alabama to its first Southeastern Conference title since 1992 and first national championship since that year.

The race between AJ McCarron and Philip Sims in 2011 was the first under Saban to be decided during the regular season. Both guys battled through spring, summer, and fall camp. Coach Saban played both quarterbacks in the Tide’s season opener versus Kent State, and both struggled.

RELATED: Bryce Young had a great first scrimmage for Alabama. What does it mean for the Tide moving forward?

Regardless of Alabama earning a 48-7 victory, McCarron and Sims each had two interceptions.

McCarron would take the job after his performance in week two against Penn State.

He turned in a solid outing against Joe Paterno and Nittany Lions on the road, totaling 163 passing yards with one touchdown and no turnovers.

Alabama captured a 27-11 victory, and McCarron went on to win back-to-back national titles (2011-12) as a starter.

The 2014 quarterback race was interesting as it featured Blake Sims versus the field.

Sims was McCarron’s backup in 2012 and 2013; however, many did not think he had the tools to be a starter. He played against Alec Morris, David Cornwell, Cooper Bateman, and Parker McLeod in the spring game. Sims had a rough performance as he tossed a pair of interceptions, including a pick-six to D.J. Pettway. He nearly had four turnovers, but Landon Collins and Jarrick Williams each dropped an interception. A lot of Tide fans wrote Sims off after the game and placed attention on Jacob Coker coming in from Florida State. The 6-foot-5, 240-pounder had the physical tools, but Sims refused to be denied.

He worked throughout the summer and beat out Coker in fall camp. Sims would set records in 2014 and delivered the Tide to an SEC Championship. He also guided the program to a berth in the first-ever College Football Playoff.

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The 2015 quarterback race mirrored 2011 as it took the regular season to decide it. After having a year in the system, Coker had to fend off Blake Barnett, Cooper Bateman, and David Cornwell.

He did well in the season opener against Wisconsin, but Coker struggled in Alabama’s home opener versus Middle Tennessee State.

He tossed an interception in the matchup, and Saban benched him to start the game against Ole Miss.

Coker responded with a valiant effort, totaling four touchdowns (one rushing), and nearly delivered the Tide to an incredible comeback victory. Alabama suffered a 37-43 loss at Bryant-Denny Stadium, but Coker earned the job and never looked back. He would carry the team to an SEC title and a CFP National Championship.

Before the 2016 season, Saban had never started a true freshman at quarterback.

Jalen Hurts changed the game, and it started on A-Day. He tossed the lone touchdown pass of the game, as White earned a 7-3 victory over Crimson. Hurts completed 11 of 15 passes for 120 yards. People still did not think he would start as Barnett, Bateman, and Cornwell were on the roster. Saban named Barnett and Bateman as the players who were primarily in the race before the season started; however, Hurts did play versus the University of Southern California.

The freshman from Texas scored four times at AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas), and was the engine behind a 52-6 demolition of the Trojans.

Hurts threw for 287 yards with two scores in a meeting against Western Kentucky. He grabbed the starting job and led the team to an SEC Championship.

The conversation between Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa in 2017 tore the Alabama fan base in half.

RELATED: VIDEO: Time for Alabama’s wide receiver room to prove itself for next season

Hurts was the fearless leader, but college football had never seen a passer like Tagovailoa.

The two put on a show in the spring game but Hurts maintained the starting job through the 2017 regular season. He had moments where he struggled, and fans wanted Tagovailoa in the game. Saban stayed with Hurts until the second half of the CFP national title game versus Georgia.

Saban was victorious in the biggest gamble of his life, as Tagovailoa tossed for three scores — including a 41-yard, game-winning completion to DeVonta Smith in overtime. Alabama snatched a 26-23 comeback victory over the Bulldogs, and Tagovailoa became the starting quarterback for 2018 and 2019. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Tide did not have spring football in 2020. Bryce Young did not have a chance to display his skill set, and Mac Jones was coming off a season where he got valuable reps as a starter. The team was all in on Jones, so there was not a competition between him and Young.

We have a different situation now with Young and Tyson. Both players have at least a year in the system, and they represent the future of the Tide. Competition at quarterback has helped Saban produce SEC and national champions at Alabama.

Should this race go beyond the spring game, whoever wins will have the Tide in the best position to win a national title.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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