INDIANAPOLIS — For the third straight season since AJ McCarron left Tuscaloosa, the Alabama Crimson Tide are unsettled at quarterback.
Redshirt junior Cooper Bateman and redshirt freshman Blake Barnett are the primary candidates to step under center during the Tide’s run at back-to-back national titles.
Last month, we projected Barnett as the new starter, but former cornerback Cyrus Jones disagreed.
“I’d probably say Cooper,” Jones said at the NFL combine Saturday afternoon. “He’s a little bit older. I think that gives him a little edge.”
Bateman struggled in his lone start last season — vs. Ole Miss — and lost the job to Jake Coker on a permanent basis by late September. He’s thrown 52 career passes, while Barnett still hasn’t touched the field.
Despite his prediction that Bateman will win the job, Jones had plenty of positive things to say about Alabama’s younger option.
“Blake’s a very talented guy,” he said. “The sky’s the limit for him. Only time will tell, and time is his friend. Just being able to learn each day under (offensive coordinator Lane) Kiffin and those guys on the offensive side. I think as long as he puts the work in, he’ll put himself in position to have a chance at the starting spot.”
If the Tide are going to repeat as national champions, they will need a steady hand under center. Jones sees two strong options.
“They both have great arms,” Jones said. “Both of them are very athletic. More than people give him credit for. So I think they’ll be fine with whoever gets the starting job this year.”