Editor’s note: Coming off its fourth national championship in seven seasons, Alabama returns a ton of talent, and has a great opportunity to repeat as champions in 2016.
Over the next few weeks, SEC Country will take a look at Alabama’s 25 most important players. Obviously, there’ll be coaches and other key members around the program who’ll have a big impact on the team’s success. But this list is strictly for the top 25 players for the Crimson Tide heading into 2016.
12. Cooper Bateman/David Cornwell/Blake Barnett/Jalen Hurts
For the third straight season, Alabama will enter fall camp with an open quarterback competition. Bateman, Cornwell, Barnett and Hurts are all competing for the opportunity to replace Jake Coker as the Crimson Tide’s signal caller this spring.
The last time we saw the four quarterbacks was on A-Day, and that outing left more questions than answers surrounding Alabama’s situation under center.
The two older quarterbacks — Bateman and Cornwell — struggled and both completed less than 40 percent of their passes for a combined 136 yards. Bateman also threw an interception. That, in large part, was due to having to face Alabama’s first-team defense, which may again end up being one of the best in the country.
The two younger quarterbacks — Barnett and Hurts — showed flashes of their enormous potential. But they were, to a degree, aided by having the opportunity to face backups and even some third-string teammates on defense.
But if we’ve learned anything about a Nick Saban-coached team, it’s that we shouldn’t overreact to A-Day.
At this point, Bateman would likely be the starter if Alabama played tomorrow — Saban has said as much — and the redshirt junior is the only player with any collegiate experience, which Saban values.
But keep an eye on Hurts. Even if he doesn’t start, it wouldn’t be surprising if coordinator Lane Kiffin cooks up a package for him on offense.
Coming Friday: A versatile defensive back