Alabama football, a little less than two weeks away from spring practice, is on the verge of beginning their title defense. Of course, this team has been here before, most notably last spring when the team gazed into the face of immense pressure of trying to repeat as national champions.

Quarterback AJ McCarron is a big reason why this team was able to handle the pressure. Calm and cool in the pocket, McCarron plays well within the system that coach Nick Saban and Offensive Coordinator Doug Nussmeier call for, “taking what the defense gives you, because eventually they’ll give you the game” as the Alabama quarterback said this past fall.

However, this will be McCarron’s final season at the Capstone which means it has become all too important for one of the quarterbacks behind him to emerge. Below is a breakdown of the players that will battle it out for the second spot on the depth chart.

Alec Morris
Morris is the prototype. Six-foot-five, 230lbs in the pocket the Texas native has one of the most beautiful deep balls on the team outside of McCarron. Early last fall, when I first saw Morris at practice, you could tell there was still some development to be made. However all the tools are there and if Morris can continue to develop, he’ll have as good of a chance as anyone.

Blake Sims
Sims is an exciting possibility because of his ability to move in the pocket and run the read option. However, while mobile one of the areas Sims struggles is being comfortable in the pocket, which was seen in the Western Carolina game this past season. If he can develop more as a passer, Sims could be the dual threat QB Alabama has not had in a long time.

Phillip Ely
Ely saw limited duty this past season, appearing in six games, but attempting just four passes-completing three for 42 yards and a touchdown. While it was Ely who was believed to be the number two heading into fall, Sims seemingly overtook the spot, getting more and more reps as the season progressed.

Cooper Bateman
Bateman is an interesting prospect. With the amount of turnover the four-star prospect faced on his high school coaching staffs he was never able to settle into one particular system, but still showed all the tools necessary to be a good quarterback. While solid in the pocket, Bateman also has plenty of athleticism (runs in the 4.55 range), but is not necessarily a running quarterback.

Luke Del Rio
Del Rio’s story is a little different than most. He had scholarship offers elsewhere but chose to walk-on and compete at Alabama. I like the swagger to make such a bold move. Rated a three star prospect, he has been surrounded by NFL talent nearly his entire life and has had access to some of the best coaches and players in football. If that translates to the field, he may be the dark horse.

Parker McLeod
McLeod, like Del Rio comes to the Capstone as a three start prospect. He posses good size for a quarterback at six-foot-three, but the first thing you notice about him is his lean frame. After spending this spring in the strength and conditioning program it will be interesting to see how the Georgia native looks after putting on some size and strength.