TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- AJ McCarron is enjoying himself these days. With so many quarterbacks in camp this spring, he has been able to take a step back and relax. After 40 career games and three national championships, it's a nice change of pace. He's a full-fledged veteran now, and that comes with some perks.
"It helps getting a break," said Alabama's rising senior at quarterback. "It's fun to sit back and watch the younger guys compete, watch them grow. It's going to be a fun spring."
Judging from McCarron's first scrimmage -- he reportedly completed 15 of 28 passes for 291 yards, four touchdowns and one interception Saturday -- his comfort level couldn't be any higher.
But beyond him, the competition at quarterback has been tight. Only five practices remain before A-Day, and the question of who will back up McCarron in 2013 remains unanswered.
Blake Sims won the day at Alabama's first scrimmage this past weekend, coming in second to McCarron in passing yards. Sims, a rising junior, was 13-of-19 for 129 yards, a touchdown and an interception. But it's still far too early to call off the competition for the No. 2 spot at quarterback. Since UA doesn't provide full scrimmage statistics, it's impossible to know how the rest of the crop of young quarterbacks performed. Presumably Phillip Ely, Alec Morris, Cooper Bateman, Parker McLeod and Luke Del Rio took snaps under center. The fact that Sims finished second in passing Saturday simply might have been an indication of the game plan from coaches and not the performance on the field.
"What we’ve tried to do is get everybody an equal opportunity," Saban said after the scrimmage. "But we’ve kind of got to pick who is going to get the reps, trying to pick the four guys who are going to get the reps that particular day -- especially with the ones and the twos.
"Today we actually had Blake play about a third of the time with the ones so that he had an opportunity to do that, so we would have a few more reps for some of the other guys with the twos and the threes. But everybody got a chance today, some guys a little more than others. Probably in the next scrimmage we’ll sort of shake it up and do it a different way so that all the guys get an opportunity, as well."
Wide receiver DeAndrew White caught seven passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns during the scrimmage. He said what he saw from the quarterbacks was promising.
"The new guys, they are coming along very well," he said. "I can’t put one ahead of the other, because they all just got here, and they’re all learning the plays. They all got really good arms, so they look pretty good."
Brian Vogler, a potential starter at tight end, said he's taking it slow when judging the youngsters at quarterback as well.
For as much as spring is about competition, it's also about patience. It's a time for learning for many rookies getting their first taste of football on such a big stage.
"Coming in high school and being a quarterback, it's tough to learn this stuff right off the bat," Vogler said. "Coach [Doug Nussmeier] has made a good transition for them to understand and even work on their delivery. Obviously they're not at that point they'll be when they're finally playing, but they're learning fast and it's really promising.
"It's a bright future for Alabama football."