TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Finally we've stumbled upon an award that likely won't cause too much debate.
Well, maybe. One can dream, right?
Whether you believe Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron deserves an invite to New York for the Heisman Trophy or not, it's hard to argue with his winning the 2013 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award on Monday. The honor is handed out annually to the top senior or fourth-year junior quarterback in the country.
So, in other words, there was no denying of Jameis Winston, Johnny Manziel, Marcus Mariota or any other national darling on this occasion. McCarron, with his 2,676 yards and 26 touchdowns through the air, was the eighth-most efficient passer in the country. He completed better than 67 percent of his passes and led his team to a No. 3 ranking in the BCS and a berth in the Allstate Sugar Bowl against No. 11 Oklahoma. And that's not to mention his two national championship rings as a starter and a career record of 36-3.
"It is an unbelievable honor to win the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award," McCarron said in a statement released through UA. "I can’t thank the Unitas family enough for selecting me as the 2013 winner. To have my name next to all of the great quarterbacks who have won this award in the past is truly an honor. I want to thank my teammates, Coach [Nick] Saban and all of our assistant coaches for making this possible."
Past award winners include Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, Matt Ryan and Andrew Luck. The award, which judges on merits such as character, scholastic achievement and leadership, will be presented to McCarron on Dec. 13.
"You know, I think AJ McCarron is the best player in the country, I really do," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said on Sunday. "If I had a vote [for the Heisman trophy], that's who I'd vote for."
Saban, for his part, hasn't had enough good things to say about McCarron's leadership of the Tide, putting the success of the team before his own individual stats and accolades.
"That's the attitude you'd like for every player to have," Saban said of McCarron earlier in the season. "Does every player want the ball, does every receiver want to catch passes, does every runner want to gain yards? Absolutely. That's all great to have those kind of individual goals and I'm sure AJ has a lot of individual goals as well. To put that ahead of team success is something that would be detrimental to us being effective. When you have leaders on your team like C.J. Mosley and AJ McCarron who definitely put the team first, definitely put winning first, definitely willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen, I think that's the only way you can have a successful team that plays with any kind of consistency that has a chance to be successful in the long run."
McCarron, who has the ninth highest-rated Total QBR in the country, won the prize over finalists Aaron Murray (Georgia), Derek Carr (Fresno State), Jordan Lynch (Northern Illinois), and Tajh Boyd (Clemson).
McCarron is also a finalist for the Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Manning Award, Senior CLASS Award and the Walter Camp Player of the Year award.