When Phillip Sims transferred from the University of Alabama at the conclusion of spring practice, Alec Morris was still finishing high school and preparing for his graduation at Allen High School in Texas.
Morris, a three-star recruit who signed with the Crimson Tide in February, knew he had an opportunity to compete for the No. 2 quarterback job at Alabama as a true freshman.
“I think there was an initial excitement and then an initial, ‘Oh crap,’" Allen offensive coordinator Jeff Fleener said. "Alec is an extremely mature kid for his age, and he really just took it all in stride. He’s very confident in what he can do. There’s no doubt that he has the physical skills and the physical stature to do it. He just has to do the homework now.”
Morris arrived in Tuscaloosa in June and knew he had a lot of work to do if he wanted to beat out redshirt freshman Phillip Ely, who had already been on campus for a year. Starting quarterback AJ McCarron praised Morris’ efforts over the summer.
“I know he’s done a good job with the summer part of it, learning on a fast pace,” McCarron said. “I guess I’ll be able to tell more as we practice.”
Still, it was a big transition for Morris when fall camp arrived. The 6-foot-3, 238-pound signal-caller has the size and the arm strength, but he wasn’t used to facing that level of defensive players every day at practice.
“The biggest difference he talks about is obviously the speed,” Fleener said. “I always responded back to him, ‘Well what did you think? You’re in the SEC now.’
“He’s excited and learning as much as he can. There is a learning curve as you have to figure things out at a faster pace, a faster speed. He’s going up against the No. 1 defense in the country every day at practice. They’re pretty special.”
The results from fall camp varied for Ely and Morris. Both quarterbacks struggled in the Tide’s second scrimmage on Saturday, and afterwards, UA coach Nick Saban addressed the competition.
“They obviously have a ways to go,” Saban said. “They do some good things. They made some good plays, but I think understanding the situation in the game and not trying to take care of the ball better ... I think we had several interceptions today that, a couple of them were ill-advised throws.”
There’s now less than two weeks until the season opener against Michigan. McCarron is the obvious starter, but nobody has emerged yet in the the battle for the No. 2 job, a competition that may linger on into the season.