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Alabama OC Nick Sheridan provides insight on QB competition behind Jalen Milroe

Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe throws a pass during practice
Photo courtesy of Alabama Athletics

Nick Saban had a great quarterback room as Alabama’s head coach in 2017 with Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa, and Mac Jones.

The unselfish, yet competitive nature of the room pushed the Crimson Tide to a College Football Playoff National Championship in 2017 and a Southeastern Conference Championship in 2018. Mac Jones, who came in with Tagovailoa as a three-star in the 2017 recruiting class, benefitted the most. He became the starting quarterback for Alabama in 2020, leading the program to an undefeated CFP National Championship season.

Could Kalen DeBoer and Nick Sheridan have a marquee room in year one?

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It appears to look that way in spring practice.

Jalen Milroe, a junior from Katy, Texas, returns as the starter from last season. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder encountered early struggles but excelled as the season went on as a first-year guy in 2023. He guided Alabama to an SEC Championship and a CFP berth in the Rose Bowl matchup versus Michigan. Milroe compiled 2,834 passing yards and 35 total touchdowns, but he’s gotten even better under DeBoer and Sheridan. Sources close to Touchdown Alabama Magazine have confirmed that Milroe has excelled in spring practice. He has improved his short to intermediate passes while continuing to craft his deep ball to be even better.

Milroe has taken strongly to the offense, making the right checks, calls, shifting protection schemes, and getting the offense into the right plays. 

“I’m telling you right now, Milroe has made the Jalen Hurts transition,” sources said to TDA Magazine.

“He’s truly elite now. There has been no regression at any point with Milroe. He’s just a different animal this year.”

The improvement he’s made and confidence he has looks to have Milroe in control of QB1 right now. Coach Sheridan loves the room he has and took time on Tuesday to break down the competition between Ty Simpson, Dylan Lonergan, and Austin Mack.

Mack, a freshman, transferred in from Washington.

“Those guys are competing,” Sheridan said about Alabama’s quarterback room.

“This is a really talented group, and they are great kids. I am excited about the group. I think there are some young players that are very talented, and they are getting better as well. For all those guys, even Austin who is familiar with the system, he is 17 years old so this is his first spring practice. All of those guys, Austin, Ty, Dylan, and Jalen, each guys is improving. We took a stride today. We have had some ups and downs as you would expect with bringing in a new scheme, but those kids are great.”

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Per sources, Ty Simpson has a ‘good handle’ on the primary backup job right now. The redshirt sophomore from Tennessee gained valuable experience last year. He played in six games, completing 11 of 20 passes for 179 yards and had 86 yards rushing with two touchdowns.

Simpson led Alabama to 17 unanswered points in its week three 17-3 victory over South Florida.

A former five-star in the 2022 class, Simpson is a pure passer that also possesses athleticism.

Sheridan worked with Austin Mack at Washington, but he’s thrilled to have him with the Crimson Tide.

He may be in his first spring practice, but Sheridan is noticing Mack’s growth.

“I see him [Austin Mack] getting better by the minute,” Sheridan said.

“He is a great kid, comes from a great family. I feel lucky to coach the guys in my room.”

Milroe has a firm hold on the starting job, but we will keep our eyes to see if Simpson can hold off Lonergan and Mack for the primary No. 2 spot.

The first scrimmage of spring practice is scheduled for Thursday and A-Day is set for April 13.

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Stephen M. Smith is the 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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