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SEC’s top 25 players of 2013: No. 4 Alabama’s AJ McCarron

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SDS is continually counting down the top 25 players in the SEC for 2013, and we’re not stopping until we get to No. 1. I know you’ll agree with every single one…

No. 4 AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama (SR)

2012 stats: 211 of 314 for 2,933 yards, 30 TDs, 3 INTs
2013 projected: 225 of 340 for 3,100 yards, 34 TDs, 4 INTs

Why he’s worthy: Competitor. Game manager. Big game quarterback. All of these words can be used to describe Alabama’s quarterback AJ McCarron. But the one he wants to be remembered for the most? Winner.

Related: AJ McCarron is the anti-Manziel

McCarron has accomplished just about everything in two seasons as the Tide’s full-time starter. He’s won back-to-back BCS National Championships, and he looks to become the first quarterback in FBS history to win three as a starter.

McCarron has delivered time and time again on college football’s biggest stage. Just last season, he picked apart the Irish’s defense, going 20 of 28 for 264 yards and four touchdowns.

Former Alabama quarterbacks Kenny Stabler, Joe Namath and Pat Trammel were three of the best in Tide history. But McCarron will become the best, because the pressure of leading the Tide during their dynasty years in the golden age of the SEC – and maybe college football – is nothing the other three had to deal with.

We’ll never know how good McCarron truly is. After all, he arguably has the most talent around him of any quarterback in the country. He’s thrown for 5,956 yards and 49 touchdowns in two full years as a starter, and he’s gunning for an unprecedented third straight championship.

The Countdown:

1.  Biggest freak in college football
2.  Johnny what’s his name?
3.  Best running back in college football
4.  The biggest winner in the rankings
5.  College football’s No. 2 overall running back
6.  A record-setting QB
7.  The Tide’s defensive glue
8.  The best offensive tackle in college football?
9.  Alabama’s O-line anchor
10. Texas A&M’s versatile left tackle
11. The biggest deep threat in the country?
12. Florida’s dancing defender
13. One LB who should explode in 2013
14. Jarvis Jones who?
15. The SEC East’s top receiver
16. Florida’s Honey Badger
17. A receiver who doesn’t drop passes…ever
18. LSU’s freak
19. A Rebel who knows he’s good
20. Funny name; not a funny game
21. Arkansas’ O-line anchor
22. A receiving freak
23. An underrated Tennessee head smasher
24. LSU’s defensive quarterback
25. An unheralded Hog

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports





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Comments 16

  1. So far, Bama has 7 out of the top 25. I’ll take that all day…..

  2. I like AJ….I really do…I think he’s a solid QB and fits into the Saban system and as it has been written is everything Manziel isnt. Here’s the thing: If I, or pretty much any GM or Head Coach in the country were picking a team I am taking the other 6 Bama players and possibly a few that arent listed over McCarron. I mean just look at the article. The ONLY thing you can list as a reason to rank him is championships. And he’s good in big games? really? Let’s see he threw a goal line INT that cost them the TAMU game…Threw another goal line INT and fumbled in the SECCG before Saban completely took his keys away…In the last two games vs LSU he didnt throw for one single TD…oh wait there was that one screen pass to Yeldon which was obviously elite QB play. So really in the last 4 “Big” sec games he hasn’t done much to help them win has he? But yes…he did a fine job vs Notre Dame in that highly contested “championship” game so he’s certainly deserving of that spot.

    • Four plays prior to the Yeldon “screen pass TD” to beat LSU, Alabama began the drive from their own 28-yard line. 3 consecutive completions by McCarron allowed Bama to advance to LSU’s 28-yard line, before scoring the game winner. In the title game against LSU, AJ was about as productive as any QB could be against a very sound LSU defense (23-34 for 234 yards). Against A&M, McCarron still produced solid numbers eclipsing 300 yards in the air. You may be right in saying AJ is not even the best player on Alabama’s team (personally I thought there were better Bama players than Ingram in ’09). But to knock on his big game performances is a little too much. Sure AJ threw the INT on the goal line against A&M. But he did complete a 54-yard deep post to place the Tide on the 6-yard line 3 plays earlier. McCarron also kept his composure during the SECCG, and completed the game winner when needed to. It’s easy to disagree on McCarron’s worth, but time and time again, he has been steady and composed in big game atmospheres.

      • Thanks for bringing some real facts to back your argument…I can respect that..and I agree that he shows composure…as do a lot of QBs….my only complaint is that that doesn’t make him a top 5 player in this league.

      • Thanks for bringing some real facts to back your argument…I can respect that..and I agree that he shows composure…as do a lot of QBs….my only response is that doesn’t make him a top 5 player in this league. Defensive coordinators do not game plan to stop AJ McCarron’s passing…they’re too busy sending 8 or 9 guys to stop the run.

        • I can respect that. I don’t think we will fully understand McCarron’s value until he is gone. He has had the luxury of being surrounded by serious talent and phenomenal coaching. He is not the best player on Alabama (the NFL scouts would agree), but he might be the hardest to replace, considering Bama’s depth quality at QB compared to other positions.

        • I get what you’re concerned with about QB depth…an you may not see Bama run through their 2014 schedule quite so easily …but I think that will have more to do with the competition than who’s taking snaps. One thing is for sure…as long as Saban is there recruiting the biggest best Big Nasties and devensive stars Alabama will be a contender.

    • I think it’s funny you bring up “big game” stats. I don’t even need to compare W-L records when it comes to ranked teams, cause you being the “stat guy” know damn well which QB has the upper hand there. You call him a solid QB here but have said several times that anybody can do what he does. You ‘dawg’ on that LSU screen pass quite often. Does every single TD pass need to be a 40 yard bomb into triple-coverage to be considered a decent play? He threw for a TD pass against a very good defense, in their stadium, in a huge game, when his team was trailing very late in the game. He made a clutch play when he needed to. I understand you aren’t too familiar with the term clutch, so I will give you a little slack there. You downplay National Championships like it’s something Georgia has attained in the past 30 years (I believe the term for this would be sour grapes). Next NFL draft we will see just how intune you are with “any GM or Head Coach in the country,” with you taking 6+ Bama players over AJ that should place him in the 5th round at the very best (judging from past drafts). I seriously believe that most of what you say is you kidding yourself. You’re just so bitter any time McCarron is ever talked about. I think a simple fix for that would be to close your eyes and very quietly say “AJ McCarron is a pretty good quarterback.” Don’t worry, no one will hear you or ever know you said it.

      • You hafta be a “pretty good QB” to make it on any squad at this level. Perhaps you should clean your crimson colored glasses for just a second and see that nobody is saying he isn’t. ALL I am saying is being a “Pretty good QB” DOESN”T MAKE YOU THE 4th BEST PLAYER IN THIS LEAGUE. And yeah…5th round sounds about right to me…possibly 4th.

      • And another thing…this article has nothing to do with UGA does it? And did I mention anything about UGA? I didn’t think so…so take all the cheap shots ya want partner but it seems like youre the one eating sour grapes to me…You’ve never heard me bash Bama and what they have accomplished…so why so mad?

        • 4th or 5th round eh? Are you closely related to Al Davis?
          Nah, being pretty good doesn’t make you one of the best players in the SEC. But having a career TD – INT ratio of 5-1 (49-8), leading the nation in passing efficiency, having the second longest streak of passing attempts without an INT (just under 300), going 24-2 as a starter, having the best QB rating in the nation JUST MIGHT make someone one of the best in the league. Oh and as much as you like to downplay them he’s got a few rings on his fingers.
          Trust me, I have nothing to be mad about. As I’ve said before it’s just plain silly that you can’t admit anything is above average when it comes to McCarron’s QB play.
          And another thing… Murray’s article has nothing to do with AJ but if I recall correctly you brought him up in the only thing you said about that article, did you not???

        • I don’t downplay the rings…but last time I checked that was a team accomplishment. Do you believe if AJ played for ole miss and Bo Wallace played for Alabama that AJ McCarron would have those rings? What about UGA? You think AJ would take UGA farther than Murray? How well would he do with Clowney in his backfield? Ya think his completion percentage would be so high if he was making throws into that Florida secondary? Wonder how many INTs he would have if he was actually the focal point of the offense week in and week out? What if he was having to put up school record numbers just to outscore the opponent? How well do you think he does in that environment? Do you not have the ability to see the difference? Alabama was already a championship caliber team when AJ took over while Murray was instrumental in turning a 6-7 team to a 12-2 team. Saban gave him the keys to the Cadillac and said “just don’t wreck it” while other QBs are driving the wheels off there cavaliers trying to keep up.

        • JP, all your arguments are “what if, what if, what if, what if.” I’m not surprised you completely ignored every stat and record of HIS I threw at you, I thought stats were your thing? Oh wait, I forgot, any QB in the league can do that if they were starting for Alabama. Kind of makes me wonder why they bother even recruiting QB’s when they can just pick up a two star kid, save a scholarship and have him win championships. All he has to do is not wreck the figurative cadillac. Easy right? He must’ve had the entire Alabama roster on his high school football team cause his TD – INT ratio was slightly better than 5-1. He just lucks out everywhere he goes huh?? You once said I think every player on the Alabama roster is the best in the league but with the way you boast about how they create AJ’s success I actually think YOU believe the entire roster is the best in the land. But you’re right, and I’m wrong. Wrong along with Mr. Jon Cooper, numerous professionals at ESPN, the Associated Press, Bucky Brooks who had this silly stuff to say about AJ http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000217810/article/johnny-manziel-aj-mccarron-make-waves-at-mannings-camp (silly guy can’t tell the difference between a “top prospect” and 5th Round talent like you can!) and also the College Football Performance QB Award which according to their website “The goal of College Football Performance Awards is to provide the most scientifically rigorous conferments in college football. Recipients are selected exclusively based upon objective scientific rankings of the extent to which individual players increase the overall effectiveness of their teams.”
          I’m done arguing over McCarron with you. You’re the only person in the football world that can truly gauge his talent correctly and I or anyone else just can’t seem to grasp it so there’s no point. You win the shiny Cadillac McCarron never wrecked.

        • Bahaha….you’re killin me Sheep…ESPN? Really? Yes, I actually do think I’m more qualified than most of those bozos…and some guy that USED to scout for Seattle? Wow yeah they had some real good QBs in their history huh? As fir AJs high school days yeah Im not sure that should qualify him either…I mean virtually every college player dominated in high school right? listen dude chill the F out dude and step down from the ledge… I ain’t sayin he’s not good…he just isn’t the 4th best player in the SEC.

  3. Let me just get something straight: If AJ McCarron was the QB at UGA and we had the OL and D that Alabama does…along with a couple of crystal balls I would be happy as a Puppy with two peckers. HOWEVER I would not be blind enough to consider him an elite QB just because of that. I would be more than happy to allow that glory to go to other QBs who are forced to shoulder more responsibility and win or lose ball games by taking risks that we don’t. I would be proud of who we are and not insist that EVERY player on my team was better than the rest. Thank you and goodnight!

  4. I think it’s safe to say that AJ McCarron isn’t quite “elite” at this point. But I wouldn’t still label him as just a “game manager” anymore. AJ does what he is told to do, and he does a really good job of that. I don’t think we’ll see his true potential at Alabama, but he has improved greatly from the scrawny recruit he was a few years ago. Part of the reason we won’t see his ceiling is because of the reasons why you think he shouldn’t be considered elite – surrounded by talent and not being the focal point of the offense. He’s a smart kid and has exceptional abilities. And maybe he isn’t the 4th best player in the conference, and I can partially agree with your argument that he’s not (Folks used to say Bear Bryant “could take his and beat yours, and then turn around and take yours and beat his”). I will try to end the argument with this – AJ has done all he has been asked to do (plus more), and has done it at a high level. The argument on whether or not he is elite will remain unanswered until he gets to the next level. But coming from an Alabama fan, he is probably better than any of the QBs Bama has had in my lifetime – McElroy, Wilson, Croyle, Pennington, Zow, Watts, Kitchens, Phillips, Burgdorf, and Barker. And he’s been able to accept the limelight without changing his attitude or his production.