Alabama football didn't start its summer workout program until Monday, yet redshirt freshman quarterback David Cornwell and wide receiver Chris Black have gotten an early start.
The two were seen at Thomas-Drew Field this weekend working on timing routes. Cornwell, who stands at 6-foot-5, 221 pounds, is battling senior quarterback Jake Coker for the starting job. "Me and David Cornwell. We got better today." - Alabama's wide receiver Chris Black via Twitter (@CB1_BAMA)
Cornwell was Alabama's second quarterback signed in its 2014 recruiting class, but Cornwell was nothing short of remarkable at Norman North High School in Norman, Okla. As a dual threat quarterback, he threw for 2,742 yards and rushed for 755 yards with 33 total touchdowns as a junior in 2013. Cornwell missed half of his senior season due to a knee injury, but remained a four-star prospect upon his arrival to Tuscaloosa in January of 2014.
Fully healthy, Cornwell looks to upstage Coker and take the quarterback job this summer. He's had a productive spring, and Alabama's head coach Nick Saban consistently talks about Cornwell's leadership and knowledge of the system. He has a strong arm and possesses the mental toughness needed to run a Saban/Kiffin system. Cornwell had some bright moments, despite tossing two interceptions in Alabama's spring game. He completed 12 of 24 passes for 110 yards with a touchdown pass to wide receiver Parker Barrineau.
Ball placement is the lone thing Cornwell must improve on. He's good at making smart decision, but he has to place the ball in a perfect spots on the field. This area will improve as long as he continues to work with Alabama's receiving corps. With repetition, Cornwell will learn how to anticipate making throws as the receivers are going in and coming out of their routes.
Arm talent is not an issue for his main competitor, Jacob Coker, however. Mental toughness is an unknown, and so far consistency and making his progressions have been grey areas. Coker could not beat out Jameis Winston at Florida State, which is not shameful in itself, but as a Junior he lacked consistency in summer camp last season with Tide. With two major programs, and three years of competition for a starting spot, it's now or never for the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Florida State transfer.
Coach Saban has demonstrated that he is willing to grow with his quarterbacks. Alabama fans witnessed the maturation of AJ McCarron. McCarron starting seeing field time as a redshirt freshman in 2010, and would later become the winningest quarterback in Crimson Tide history. Cornwell stands in the very same position. He is a redshirt freshman, yet possesses a bigger arm and more mobility than McCarron.
A new face will be under center for Alabama this fall. The question is does Jake Coker have enough fight in him to take control? If so, he will call the shots, but if not, prepare to see a redshirt freshman from Oklahoma step up. Saturday was a huge statement in Cornwell's push.
Let the games begin.