For much of Nick Saban’s illustrious tenure in Tuscaloosa which has produced six National Championships, seven SEC Championships and a 165-23 record between 2007 and the present, the quarterback position has been one of a game manager, surrounded by a stealth running game and great defense.
14 years ago today, Nick Saban won his first game as the head coach of @AlabamaFTBL.
🔺 Six National Championships
🔺 Seven SEC Championships
🔺 13-straight 10 win seasons
🔺 39 first-round NFL Draft picks
🔺 100 weeks ranked No. 1 in AP poll pic.twitter.com/wMXioeAkEX
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 1, 2021
That style worked until the spread offenses began to take over the college game.
Saban had to adjust his recruiting tactics and his offensive approach if he was going to remain the flagship college football program in the nation.
Gone were the days of winning championships with lower-tier signal caller like Greg McElroy, AJ McCarron, Blake Sims and Jake Coker. That’s why you’ve seen the emergence of highly-skilled talents running Saban’s offense the past few seasons.
These days you need a dual-threat like Jalen Hurts, or an elite passer like Tua Tagovailoa, or a guy like Mac Jones, who does his best work inside the pocket with a moxie reminiscent of a young Tom Brady.
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) August 31, 2021
Those three were once in the same QB room in Tuscaloosa and all left “The Capstone” with at least one National Championship. In fact, Mac won bookend titles — one as a freshman and one as a senior. You can still see the trio on Sundays starting for various NFL squads.
The New England Patriots released fromer MVP Cam Newton on Tuesday, which opened the door for rookie Jones to join his former BAMA teammates Tagovailoa (Dolphins) and JHurts (Eagles) as NFL starters.
Not since the days of Joe Willie Namath aka “Broadway Joe” or Kenny “The Snake” Stabler has Alabama produced quarterbacks of this ilk.
In fact Tua and Mac will face one another on opening day as the Fins’ and Pats battle in an early season AFC East tilt on Sept. 12.
Early and late Week 1 CBS matchups: pic.twitter.com/TkSN99JNPj
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 12, 2021
Jones led the Crimson Tide to the College Football Playoff National Championship and finished third in the Heisman voting behind teammate DeVonta Smith (winner) and Clemson quarterback Trevor “Sunshine.”
He threw for 4500 yards, 41 touchdowns and just four interceptions, while leading the Crimson Tide to a 13-0 season and just the second undefeated season in Nick Saban’s tenure. Jones also started the final four games of the 2019 season for the injured Tagovailoa.
— NFL (@NFL) August 31, 2021
Tagovailoa, enters his second season with the Dolphins with big expectations after being selected No. 5 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Hawaii native is one of the most decorated players in the history of Alabama football, having won the College Football National Championship and CFP National Champagne Offensive MVP as a true freshman. As a sophomore he won the Maxwell, Walter Camp, and SEC Player of the Year awards, while also being named a consensus All-American.
Hurts took over as Alabama’s starting quarterback as a freshman in 2016 before being replaced by Tagovailoa in the second half of the 2018 CFP National Championship Game, with Tagovailoa leading the Tide to a comeback overtime victory over the Georgia Bulldogs.
Hurts then replaced the injured Tagovailoa during the SEC Championship the following season, and led the Tide a victory over the Bulldogs with a strong late game
performance, before Tagovailoa returned for the College Football Playoff several weeks later.
Hurts showed real professionalism and maturity in how he handled his benching and instead of transferring right away he persevered.
With the blessing of Nick Saban, Hurts transferred to the University of Oklahoma prior to the 2019 campaign, where he revived his Draft stock by lighting up the scoreboard. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist and garnered first team All-Big 12 and Big 12 Newcomer of the Year honors.
The relationship between these quarterbacks starts with Nick Saban’s ability to evolve with the times and ends with each player selflessly and effectively remaining friends while paving indivdual paths to the NFL, each with its own set of unique challenges.
#Alabama had three strong quarterbacks on its roster in 2017, and now all three will start week one of the NFL season.
SEC Network honored Jalen Hurts, Mac Jones, and Tua Tagovailoa with an awesome graphic. Nick Saban is about to make the Tide "QBU."https://t.co/jmAmBI5jNs
— Stephen M. Smith (@CoachingMSmith) August 31, 2021
Former Alabama and current Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey had this to say to future recruits following the announcement of these three former Crimson Tide QBs being named NFL starters:
“Recruits …. don’t let competition at BAMA scare you! You can still end up right where you wanna be.”
Alabama is building a resume as a school that develops QBs for the pro game.
Will 2020 five star recruit Bryce Young follow suit?