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Austin Mack, transfer QB for Alabama, looking to ‘push the envelope’ to become the starter

Washington QB Austin Mack (#10) throwing passes in warmups before 2023 matchup against USC Trojans.
Jonathan Hui - USA TODAY Sports

The quarterback position was interesting last season for the University of Alabama.

Jalen Milroe ultimately took the job, but it took four games for the coaching staff to settle on him. He returns as a junior for the upcoming spring; however, the competition is tougher.

Milroe no longer has Nick Saban as his head coach. Kalen DeBoer is the successor to take the Crimson Tide into the post-Saban era.

He brought his offensive staff from Washington with him, and Milroe has to familiarize himself with new concepts. He also needs to improve his accuracy on short to intermediate routes and his decision-making in the pocket. Milroe has Ty Simpson (redshirt sophomore) and Dylan Lonergan (redshirt freshman) pushing him as guys with knowledge of the Alabama culture, but he also has to fend off a transfer that knows the offense of DeBoer, Nick Sheridan (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach), and JaMarcus Shephard (co-offensive coordinator).

RELATED: JaMarcus Shephard reveals why he chose to coach at Alabama, family connection to state

Austin Mack, a transfer from the Huskies, was a backup to Michael Penix Jr. He helped the Pac-12 program to a conference championship and a berth in the College Football Playoff National Championship matchup against Michigan. The 6-foot-6, 226-pounder from Folsom (Calif.) comes in as a freshman. Mack brings a lot of tools from a passing perspective, but he is also athletic. 

Coach Shephard had an interview with Ryan Fowler, host of The Game with/Ryan Fowler on Tide 100.9 FM, and he spoke about what makes Mack stand out in this competition. Shephard said Mack is looking to ‘push the envelope’ in spring practice.

“Familiarity helps a ton,” Shephard said about Mack helping the Tide’s quarterback room under the offense.

“It is the small details, getting the motions right, getting a shift right, making sure we are in the right formations … he sees and understands that. Some of our really high-level thinking ideas that he’s been exposed to because of being behind Mike Penix last year, he will at least have some familiarity with those things. The great part about it is he can throw it. He can throw the ball really well, and he can operate it himself. I think thee competition that’s going to be created across our entire football team, including Austin being in those types of competitions, is really going to push the envelope for us. You are going to have to learn at a high level pretty rapidly because you have other guys in the room who already know really well.”

Spring practice for Alabama starts Monday, March 4 and will go until the A-Day Game on Saturday, April 13.

We will see how much of a push Mack makes, and can Milroe hold onto to remain the starting quarterback.

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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.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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