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AJ McCarron says Alabama players in his day were ‘built different’ in relation to tough love and not transferring

Dale Zanine - USA Today Sports

When the winningest quarterback in Alabama football history has a perspective on the NCAA transfer portal it is good to listen.

AJ McCarron won three BCS National Championships during his time in Tuscaloosa, including two as the Crimson Tide’s starting signal-caller in 2011 and 2012. McCarron is Alabama’s all-time career leader for passing yards (9,019) and second for career passing touchdowns (77). He earned first-team All-American honors and won both Maxwell and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm awards in 2013. McCarron, a native of Mobile, Ala., had an interesting thought on the transfer portal culture in college football. 

RELATED: Former Alabama kicker Jack Martin transfers to Houston

He got verbally whiplashed by Coach Nick Saban several times and Saban spanked his bottom as a backup quarterback. 

McCarron never let the hard coaching from Saban run him away. He embraced it and that made him one of the most beloved winners in school history. Will Lowery, McCarron’s former teammate, commented on a video on Twitter of Saban spanking McCarron on the sideline after a play. Lowery said if Saban or any other coach did that now, the quarterback’s name is in the transfer portal before the game is over. McCarron reminded his former teammate that guys in their era were ‘built different.’

He said ‘only a couple of kids now are built like we were.’

“I wasn’t going anywhere,” McCarron said. “I had sh-t to prove and rings to win!”

McCarron played with a passion and intensity that compelled others to respect him. He showed Saban he was the best quarterback for the Tide during his time. Alabama is starting to recruit players that have McCarron’s mindset for 2022, 2023, and 2024 classes. Saban needs to restore the toughness of the culture, and it begins with getting guys with McCarron’s mentality.

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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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