Disclaimer: I have no inside information on this subject. Though if I did, I wouldn't tell you fools anyway.
For the second year in a row, the Alabama fan base gets to argue for an entire half of a year over who the next starting QB will be. Entertaining, distressing, and polarizing, it is one my favorite things about the sport of football.
It's a race to see who will be the second most famous person, behind Nick Saban, in the state of Alabama this year, and the runners are coming around the final corner. For all of us in the stands... Well, we have no clue who will win. Some of us act like we do, but in all reality, there are five men out there with very equal shots to be the one to take the reigns this season.
Who are these five men, you ask?
One: Shame on you and your fanhood for not knowing all of them.
Two: You probably just have much more productive things to do in your free time than me.
Coker is the oldest member of the QB race. The redshirt senior transferred from Florida State last year in hopes of winning the starting job, but was beat out by Alabama folk hero Blake Sims. Coker is now poised to take the throne in round two, and many consider him to be the frontrunner. At 6'5" 230, he has the most prototypical NFL size of any QB on the roster, and is known for his arm strength and amazing deep passing game. He's a surprisingly mobile guy for his size, too. However, he seems to have a very slow reaction time and has not looked very comfortable in the pocket in his entire time at Alabama.
The redshirt freshman out of Oklahoma is built very similarly to Coker: big and deceptively mobile, with a powerful arm. He joined the team in 2014 still recovering from an ACL tear in high school, but seems to have recovered completely from that. There were talks back in the spring that Cornwell had emerged as the leader in the QB battle, and Nick Saban even publicly praised him for his leadership. However, even in his high school years, accuracy has always been Cornwell's weakest area, as he tends to throw the ball a little too high. Recently, Cornwell appears to have fallen down the depth chart, and many have speculated he is in Coach Saban's dog house for some reason or another.
It seems like the Texan has been on this team for ten years, but Morris is only a redshirt junior. After a brief hiatus as a back up punter last season, he's back in the mix for the quarterback job. A well built man that looks much heavier than his listed 230 pounds, Morris is the shortest QB on the roster. He excels in the short passing game, and has the ability to put more straight line zip on his passes than the other competitors. Earlier this year, a graduated Blake Sims told the media that Morris had a better knowledge of the offense than anyone else, and has been catching a lot of fanfare this fall. In recent days, many are starting to seriously consider Morris the frontrunner for the job. However, he seems to really struggle in the deep passing game, and it is telling that he has been buried on the depth chart for so many years.
Bateman is a highly rated redshirt sophomore from Utah, and physically differs from the first three quarterbacks. At 6'3" 220, Bateman is muscular, and easily has the fastest 40-yard dash time of the group. Though listed as a pro-style QB in high school, Bateman is exceptionally athletic for the QB position, and Saban even experimented with him at receiver earlier this spring. He was the designated holder for field goals last year, a role that Saban only gives to a player with skilled hands and trustworthy coordination. Bateman excels at throwing fades and touch deep balls, but appears to have the weakest arm on the roster, leading to a subpar short passing game. He also (maybe a product of being from Utah) seems to be a bit of an outsider to the rest of the team. This is obviously from a fan's perspective, but his mannerisms and interactions seem odd. I personally vouched for Bateman during last year's QB battle, and will continue to do so this year.
At fan day, Bateman seemed like the odd man out and the last QB on the depth chart, but just in the last week or so there have been rumblings that he is just as much in the running for the starting gig as Jacob Coker and the rest.
And finally, the freshman. Barnett is the highest rated passer to commit to the Crimson Tide in the Nick Saban era, and he comes with tremendous expectations. The dual-threat from California has an NFL caliber arm and an uncanny ability to make defenders miss him in the pocket. He was thrown into the fire at A-day and looked every bit the part of a terrified freshman, but appears to have stepped up his confidence and playing speed since then. He's still skinny, weighing in at around 200 pounds on his 6'5" frame, and needs to bulk up to survive the defensive linemen in the SEC. Whether he gets the job this year or not, there is little doubt Barnett will become a star quarterback at Alabama.
So, who gets the start? The talented senior transfer? The guy that's been here forever? The new kid? Saban is still telling the media that no quarterback has taken any semblance of command over the offense, and that the race will be wide open up through the Wisconsin game. Jake Coker will probably take the first snaps of that game, but by no means will that mean he has won the starting job.
Were it up to me, I'd pick Cooper Bateman. He's my guy. As I said earlier, I love his style, athletic ability, and touch on deep passes. Fortunately, Coach Saban doesn't listen to me. Otherwise, Phillip Sims would have been the QB over AJ McCarron a few years ago. Some recent rumors around the Twitterverse are that Coach Kiffin is working on creating two different sub packages for Bateman and Coker in the first team offense.
So, for my prediction on how the QB situation plays out in 2015: Coker gets the first reps in the Wisconsin game, like every one expects. Both Morris and Bateman also get even playing time, and nothing really gets decided. Bateman ends up being phased out, and Coker continues to be the starter over Morris for the next couple of games before he suddenly falls apart mid-game. From there, Alec Morris takes over for the rest of the season, with the threat of being replaced by Bateman hanging over his head. It's not the most healthy of QB situations, but that's my prediction.
Who thinks I'm wrong?