SDS’ top 25 players of 2012: No. 11 AJ McCarron


SDS is continually counting down the top 25 players in the SEC for 2012, and we’re not stopping until we get to that sexy No. 1. We don’t just rank stats or project players at the next level based on athletic superiority, but we rank players based on the season they had in 2012. I know you’ll agree with every single one…

No. 11 – AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama

2012 Stats: 211 of 314 (67.2%) for 2,933 yards, 30 touchdowns and three INTs

Why he’s worthy: The transformation of AJ McCarron as a quarterback from game manager to impact player has been fascinating to watch. How can a two-time national champion quarterback only be the 11th best player in the SEC? You could make an argument McCarron is a top five player in the SEC with all the intangibles, and I would listen.

I’m convinced that McCarron could throw for just as many yards as both Aaron Murray and Tyler Bray if he had the number of attempts either had. But he didn’t, and it’s simple why the numbers don’t jump off the page – he didn’t have to. McCarron threw for 2,933 yards and 30 touchdowns with just three interceptions in ‘12. He finished No. 1 in the country in passing efficiency. McCarron attempted 72 passes less than Murray and 137 attempts less than Bray despite playing two more games.

Nick Saban and Doug Nussmeier made McCarron’s task simple – don’t turn the ball over. It’s been the same mentality since he took over the job for Greg McElroy, too. But McCarron actually developed into more of a downfield threat than in 2011. McCarron took his game to another level, thanks in part to a growing maturation as a quarterback, a dynamic running game and a freshman wide receiver who could stretch the field.

Bama’s offense started to take shape after the bye week when they thumped Missouri. The biggest part of that was Amari Cooper’s emergence as the Tide’s best downfield threat. Play action was nasty for secondaries creeping up to defend the run, and McCarron-to-Cooper was good for six in several significant games.

It should come at no surprise that McCarron played his best game on the biggest stage against Notre Dame. He finished 20 of 28 for 264 yards and four touchdowns. He was surgical against the Irish’s not so SEC-ready defense.

And AJ McCarron returns as a two-time national champion to lead the Crimson Tide’s dynasty to make another championship run.

The Countdown

Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE



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