Looking through Alabama passing records some obvious names jump at you: Namath, Stabler, Croyle, McCarron. But, there’s one name that appears time and again that few associate with Alabama star quarterbacks: John Parker Wilson.
The three-star out of local powerhouse Hoover had received offers from traditionally pass-friendly Southern programs Clemson, Tennessee and Ole Miss, but decided to stay home and play for Mike Shula’s Crimson Tide teams. After signing in 2005, and serving as a backup for the Tide, Wilson got his chance to play when he earned the start in 2006 — it would be a starting job he held on to for three straight seasons under two head coaches.
Don’t let the pretty face fool you. John Parker had a smooth release, good vision, and was an hellacious competitor. In addition to posting three straight 2000+ yard seasons, he holds the Alabama record for attempts in a career, attempts in a season, is tied with Gary Hollingsworth for most completions in a game, is second in completions for a season and career, he is second only to AJ for passing touchdowns in a career. He is Alabama’s accuracy leader in games with 30+ attempts. And, he is second in Alabama history in touchdown responsibilty. A.J. McCarron tallied 70 scores, but John Parker Wilson wasn’t very far behind on far worse teams, scoring 58 total touchdowns in his three-year career (47 passing, 11 on the ground.)
Who can forget that he absolutely gave us the best moment of a rebuilding 2007 season in the Tide’s home SEC opener versus Arkansas. The Hogs stormed into a night game in Tuscaloosa ranked No. 16 and led by Heisman candidate Darren McFadden. The Tide trailing 38-34 with 2:18 left in the game and out of timeouts, JPW marched down the field and lit up the Hogs with a game-winning 41-38 touchdown drive with just :08 left.
The next year, with the gifted Julio Jones on the outside and protected by a superior running game, JPW cut down on his interceptions an led the Tide to an undefeated regular season. He also added some zest to the renewed LSU-Alabama rivalry:
Going into Baton Rouge in 2008 against the No. 15 LSU Tigers, and riding a No. 1 national ranking, Wilson was the beneficiary of Red Stick psy-ops. Some Tigers’ fans had doxxed JPW and posted his cell number on LSU message boards, with predictable results. The week of the game, his phone was blowing up with calls and texts at all hours of the day and night.
Early in a scoreless game, after a drive conducted largely on the legs of Glen Coffee, JPW took the ball on the sneak, and into the Tiger end zone by the LSU student section. He had something to say to them:
He would get the penalty, but the Tide would get the win after some heroics by Rashad Johnson. Perhaps the most amazing thing about that game was that Nick Saban uncharacteristically never said a word to him about drawing the penalty.
Wilson was drafted by the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and played for a few years before hanging them up and opening an insurance business back in Birmingham. For an Tide team that had sputtered somewhat in 2006, to an undefeated season in 2008, JPW bridged the gap between the Jumbo Package and the Process and entered the record books in the process, while having fun doing so.
In fact, you should go watch the highlights of those two games again. They were a lot of fun.
58 days ‘til Alabama football