Feisty McCarron has brought rings aplenty to Alabama - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Feisty McCarron has brought rings aplenty to Alabama

Posted: Updated:
In this Jan. 7, 2013 file photo, Alabama's AJ McCarron kissed The Coaches' Trophy after the BCS National Championship college football game against Notre Dame, in Miami. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) In this Jan. 7, 2013 file photo, Alabama's AJ McCarron kissed The Coaches' Trophy after the BCS National Championship college football game against Notre Dame, in Miami. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — AJ McCarron started out as a feisty freshman seething over his lowly spot on the depth chart for his first scrimmage. Third team? Seriously?

Now, the Alabama quarterback is an impeccably efficient passer who has as many titles (two) as defeats since becoming the Crimson Tide's starter. He's even got a celebrity girlfriend who unwittingly stole some of his thunder during the national championship game.

Much has changed, but McCarron still doesn't back down.

Not on Twitter, where he told his 169,000 followers he was happy to be home "working to get another" title and not attending the ESPYs. Not on the game manager label, or on pal Johnny Manziel.

Or nearing the end of a blowout win over Notre Dame, when his eruption over a delay of game penalty that merely delayed the celebration drew a shove from normally peaceful center Barrett Jones.

Those are just subplots in the story of a quarterback who's been delivering to 'Bama fans what they covet most: Championship rings.

With a 25-2 record, McCarron's pecking order is now pretty well established for coach Nick Saban's top-ranked Crimson Tide. Many think he'll lead the Tide to a third consecutive national title, something no team has managed going back to the first Associated Press poll in 1936.

"He went from a guy that was kind of bucking the system early on and Saban had to kind of get him in line and he realized, 'If I just play within the system, we can win a lot of games and win championships,'" said former Alabama quarterback Jay Barker, who led the Tide to the 1992 national title. "And he's definitely done that."

Saban recalls that first scrimmage, which he turned into a memorable lesson on leadership. He said McCarron thought he should have led the second team, not the third, and didn't handle it well.

"He came fussing and kicking and cussing up to my office after the scrimmage because he was disappointed he didn't play with the second team," Saban said. "And he didn't do a very good job of leading the players that he did play with, which was the third team. And he was kind of fussing and cussing and frustrated.

"He said, 'Why didn't I play with the second team?' And I said, 'Well, we were only evaluating on one thing today and that was leadership. And you failed dramatically.'"

McCarron hasn't failed many such lessons since then. He has become the face of the program — if that title doesn't belong to either Saban or perhaps the QB's girlfriend, Katherine Webb, who drew the cameras and TV announcer Brent Musberger's attention repeatedly as the championship game in Miami itself provided little beauty for non-Bama fans. Webb has since landed a role on a reality show and a spot in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue

McCarron has done OK, too. He has been nearly flawless in two national championship games, and was the MVP against LSU two seasons ago. He was the nation's most efficient passer last season, with a school-record 30 touchdowns against just three interceptions. His 291 pass attempts between interceptions made for the second-longest streak in SEC history.

A program that has produced the likes of Bart Starr, Kenny Stabler and Joe Namath is still not known for quarterbacks.

McCarron has a shot to become the first Tide quarterback picked in the opening round of the NFL draft since the New York Jets took Richard Todd in 1976.

His poise, collection of titles and ability to make a variety of throws remind Barker of New England Patriots star Tom Brady.

"I know that's a lot of expectations to put on a kid like him, as far as a guy who's won so many championships and been a Pro Bowler and one of the best quarterbacks of all-time," Barker said. "If you look at the stature, the way that they're built, the way they throw, their mind for the game. I think AJ's even a better athlete because he can move around and make plays with his feet that Brady can't do.

"His ability to sit in the pocket and throw between the tackles is as good as anybody in the country, and I hope this year he's going to be recognized for that even more."

Barker was fifth in the 1994 Heisman Trophy balloting. McCarron is regarded as a legitimate candidate to win the award, if far from the favorite unless Alabama suddenly becomes a pass-heavy team.

McCarron mostly brushes off Heisman talk to focus on team goals, but his mother, Dee Dee Bonner, does have a picture of him adopting the Heisman pose in a 'Bama football costume as a youngster.

Game managers don't win Heismans. Guys who make plays and few mistakes certainly have a shot.

This is the quarterback who first came to national attention as a redshirt freshman backup when Saban gave him a hard slap to the backside after an ill-advised downfield throw.

"I went from coming in being called a risk-taker, and 'He's crazy with the ball. He just throws it, blah, blah,'" McCarron said. "Getting smacked on the butt in 2010 from Coach. And then, 'Oh, he doesn't want to be coached,' to now, whenever you mention my first name, it's like 'Game Manager' is my middle name, and then they say my last name. Going two totally different ways.

"It's pretty funny to see what people try to say I am, but I know what I'm capable of doing."

McCarron grew up idolizing Packers quarterback Brett Favre, less for his stats than because he got so much from his teammates and "you never saw Brett Favre not smiling."

The son of a Mobile, Ala., firefighter who lived on Dauphin Island Parkway — or D.I.P. — does find motivation from more even than titles.

"I want to see my family have things they've never had," McCarron said. "I grew up a poor kid from Mobile on D.I.P. So I came from nothing. I want to be able to watch my family enjoy things that they've never had. That's my biggest thing that pushes me."

___

Follow John Zenor on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jzenor

  • Auburn University SportsMore>>

  • 2014 USA Today preseason coaches poll: FSU No. 1, Alabama No. 2, Auburn No. 5

    2014 USA Today preseason coaches poll: FSU No. 1, Alabama No. 2, Auburn No. 5

    Thursday, July 31 2014 1:40 PM EDT2014-07-31 17:40:23 GMT
    The 2014 USA Today preseason college football coaches poll was released Thursday and reigning national champion Florida State sits atop the rankings.More >>
    The 2014 USA Today preseason college football coaches poll was released Thursday and reigning national champion Florida State sits atop the rankings.More >>
  • Auburn football announces two-game series with Clemson

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 4:38 PM EDT2014-07-30 20:38:41 GMT
    Auburn and Clemson have agreed to a two-game series beginning in 2016. Auburn will host Clemson on Sept. 3, 2016 and play at Clemson's Memorial Stadium on Sept. 9, 2017.The programs have played 49 times in the past, including three times in the last five years. Auburn leads the all-time series 34-13-2 despite losing the last two times it's played Clemson, in 2011 and 2012.The agreement with Clemson will fulfill Auburn's obligation to play at least one non-conference opponent from a Power 5 co...More >>
    Auburn and Clemson have agreed to a two-game series beginning in 2016. Auburn will host Clemson on Sept. 3, 2016 and play at Clemson's Memorial Stadium on Sept. 9, 2017.The programs have played 49 times in the past, including three times in the last five years. Auburn leads the all-time series 34-13-2 despite losing the last two times it's played Clemson, in 2011 and 2012.The agreement with Clemson will fulfill Auburn's obligation to play at least one non-conference opponent from a Power 5 co...More >>
  • Auburn QB Nick Marshall pays $1,100 in fines for marijuana possession, window tint violations in Georgia

    Auburn QB Nick Marshall pays $1,100 in fines for marijuana possession, window tint violations in Georgia

    Thursday, July 24 2014 3:33 PM EDT2014-07-24 19:33:03 GMT
    Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall has paid the fines for possession of a small amount of marijuana and a window tint violation.More >>
    Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall has paid the fines for possession of a small amount of marijuana and a window tint violation.
    More >>
  • All other Local CollegesMore>>

  • Samford picked to finish third in Southern Conference

    Samford picked to finish third in Southern Conference

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 8:38 PM EDT2014-07-24 00:38:39 GMT
    Coming off it's first trip to the FCS Playoffs, Samford was picked to finish third in the Southern Conference, the highest the program has even been picked in the preseason since it joined the league in 2008.More >>
    Coming off it's first trip to the FCS Playoffs, Samford was picked to finish third in the Southern Conference, the highest the program has even been picked in the preseason since it joined the league in 2008.More >>
  • Alabama State, Southern favorites in SWAC

    Alabama State, Southern favorites in SWAC

    Friday, July 18 2014 5:11 PM EDT2014-07-18 21:11:55 GMT
    Defending Southwestern Athletic Conference champion Southern and Alabama State are the favorites to win their divisions.More >>
    Defending Southwestern Athletic Conference champion Southern and Alabama State are the favorites to win their divisions.
    More >>
  • JSU football picked by media to win OVC championship

    JSU football picked by media to win OVC championship

    Friday, July 18 2014 4:08 PM EDT2014-07-18 20:08:13 GMT
    Jacksonville State is picked to win the Ohio Valley Conference championship by media covering the league.More >>
    Jacksonville State is picked to win the Ohio Valley Conference championship by media covering the league.
    More >>
  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • 4 injured in small plane crash in Helena

    4 injured in small plane crash in Helena

    Thursday, July 31 2014 3:49 PM EDT2014-07-31 19:49:40 GMT
    Authorities are investigating a small plane crash in Helena Thursday afternoon, a fire spokesman said.More >>
    Authorities are investigating a small plane crash in Helena Thursday afternoon, a fire spokesman said.More >>
  • Pedestrian struck, killed by Amtrak train in Tuscaloosa

    Pedestrian struck, killed by Amtrak train in Tuscaloosa

    Thursday, July 31 2014 3:36 PM EDT2014-07-31 19:36:56 GMT
    A pedestrian was struck and killed by a train departing Tuscaloosa Thursday afternoon, ABC 33/40 reporter Isaiah Harper has learned.More >>
    A pedestrian was struck and killed by a train departing Tuscaloosa Thursday afternoon, ABC 33/40 reporter Isaiah Harper has learned.More >>
  • Repairing burst Los Angeles main could take days

    Repairing burst Los Angeles main could take days

    Thursday, July 31 2014 3:28 PM EDT2014-07-31 19:28:02 GMT
    Hundreds of cars submerged below murky water. A landmark basketball court, newly refurbished, showing signs of buckling. Soaked and stained carpets. An athletic track coated in mud.More >>
    Repair crews on Thursday were shoring up a giant hole in the middle of Sunset Boulevard caused by a ruptured pipe, as officials at the water-logged University of California, Los Angeles, continued to assess damage from the...More >>
  • Lackey goes from Red Sox to Cards for Kelly, Craig

    Lackey goes from Red Sox to Cards for Kelly, Craig

    Thursday, July 31 2014 3:04 PM EDT2014-07-31 19:04:28 GMT
    The Boston Red Sox have traded right-hander John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals for right-hander Joe Kelly and outfielder Allen Craig before Thursday's deadline, a person with knowledge of the deal said.More >>
    The Boston Red Sox traded right-hander John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals for right-hander Joe Kelly and outfielder Allen Craig before Thursday's deadline.More >>
  • Judge delays decision on abortion law

    Judge delays decision on abortion law

    Thursday, July 31 2014 1:54 PM EDT2014-07-31 17:54:07 GMT
    A federal judge is delaying his decision on an Alabama law that could close some abortion clinics. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson told attorneys in June that he hoped to rule by the end of July. But Thompson notified attorneys Thursday that he needs extra time and will have a ruling by Monday. Thompson said he needs time to consider a federal appeals court ruling Tuesday that blocked a similar Mississippi law. Alabama's law requires doctors at abortion clinics to have approval to admit pa...More >>
    A federal judge is delaying his decision on an Alabama law that could close some abortion clinics. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson told attorneys in June that he hoped to rule by the end of July. But Thompson notified attorneys Thursday that he needs extra time and will have a ruling by Monday. Thompson said he needs time to consider a federal appeals court ruling Tuesday that blocked a similar Mississippi law. Alabama's law requires doctors at abortion clinics to have approval to admit pa...More >>
  • Demoted worker shoots CEO, kills self in Chicago

    Demoted worker shoots CEO, kills self in Chicago

    Thursday, July 31 2014 1:49 PM EDT2014-07-31 17:49:49 GMT
    A demoted worker shot and critically wounded his company's CEO before fatally shooting himself Thursday inside a downtown high-rise office building in Chicago's bustling financial district, police said. Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said a worker at a technological company pulled a gun after entering the 17th-floor office to meet one-on-one with his CEO. There was a struggle for the gun, and the CEO was shot twice before the gunman fatally shot himself, McCarthy said. McCarthy said the...More >>
    A demoted worker shot and critically wounded his company's CEO before fatally shooting himself Thursday inside a downtown high-rise office building in Chicago's bustling financial district, police said. Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said a worker at a technological company pulled a gun after entering the 17th-floor office to meet one-on-one with his CEO. There was a struggle for the gun, and the CEO was shot twice before the gunman fatally shot himself, McCarthy said. McCarthy said the...More >>
  • 2014 USA Today preseason coaches poll: FSU No. 1, Alabama No. 2, Auburn No. 5

    2014 USA Today preseason coaches poll: FSU No. 1, Alabama No. 2, Auburn No. 5

    Thursday, July 31 2014 1:40 PM EDT2014-07-31 17:40:23 GMT
    The 2014 USA Today preseason college football coaches poll was released Thursday and reigning national champion Florida State sits atop the rankings.More >>
    The 2014 USA Today preseason college football coaches poll was released Thursday and reigning national champion Florida State sits atop the rankings.More >>
  • Tuscaloosa police: Missing girl reportedly spotted riding bicycle on Rice Mine Road Wednesday afternoon

    Tuscaloosa police: Missing girl reportedly spotted riding bicycle on Rice Mine Road Wednesday afternoon

    Thursday, July 31 2014 12:18 PM EDT2014-07-31 16:18:20 GMT
    A 13-year-old girl who has been missing since Sunday was reportedly spotted Wednesday afternoon, but she was never located, Tuscaloosa police said today.More >>
    A 13-year-old girl who has been missing since Sunday was reportedly spotted Wednesday afternoon, but she was never located, Tuscaloosa police said today.More >>