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FLIP: What Alabama Is Getting in Quarterback Jalen Milroe

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Sark gets his man.

Jalen Milroe.
SBNation: Joe Hamilton

On Monday evening, Alabama got a special treat in the flip of quarterback Jalen Milroe from the Texas Loghorns. While the timing of the announcement was a surprise, the fact that it happened should not be.

Milroe has long been on the radar of Alabama and in particular that of Tide OC Steve Sarkisian. In a move normally reserved for the best of the best, Alabama offered the Katy, Texas QB before seeing him throw on campus. The offer came in May of 2019 and the prospect camped in Tuscaloosa the following month. He had an excellent camp and at the time he named the Crimson Tide as his leader. In the meantime, other offers rolled in including one from Texas a few weeks later. In July of that year, Milroe looked like he was ready to pull the trigger but Drake Maye beat him to the punch with a commitment. Very soon after, Milroe seemingly went with “Plan B” and committed to the Longhorns.

Fast forward to March of this year when Maye flipped his commit to home state North Carolina. Suddenly, the Tide was without a signal caller for the 2021 class - a big no-no in the recruiting world. By this time, all the quarterback dominoes had toppled with pretty much every QB solidly committed elsewhere. Thus, Saban and Sark would have to flip someone. Attention quickly turned back to Milroe and FSU commit Luke Altmyer (Starkville, MS) respectively.

Months went by and it appeared the Crimson Tide may not sign a quarterback or at the very least make a reach for a project along the lines of Layne Hatcher. Meanwhile, the Longhorns were recruiting the “next big thing” in top 2022 prospect in Quinn Ewers. Last Friday, Ewers made his pledge to the ‘Horns. Some observers are concluding that Milroe’s flip was influenced by this move. It probably had something to do with it, but it feels like his heart was never really in Austin. He admitted in an interview a few weeks ago that he was not a Longhorns fan growing up and really had no clear favorite as a kid (but he does like the Ravens).

[SIDE NOTE: Because of the commitment of Ewers, Texas fans are not quite melting down like they did when the Brockermeyer twins committed to Alabama. However, this is definitely a blow to the Longhorns. First off, it has been well proven that it is vital for power programs to pick up a quality QB in every class, and losing one this late in the process is a concern. Secondly, this newest boy wonder has 16 months until his Early Signing Period to think about his decision. Anything can happen in that time.]

Although listed as a dual-threat, Milroe has evolved into more of a passer than a QB looking to run the ball. As a sophomore, he passed for more than 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns, while adding another 600 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. Last season revealed more of an emphasis towards a pro-style of play with the 4-star recruit throwing for 2,689 yards and 29 touchdowns with a 62 percent completion rate. His ground numbers were 378 yards and eight scores despite a reduced number of carries. In both seasons, he averaged just under 5.0 yards per carry. Reports claim a 4.6-second 40 time and a 35-inch vertical jump.

Watching his highlight video, it is clear that he is a very polished quarterback at such a young age. Already running the RPO with precision, he has the skill to go through his progressions to find the best outcome for each play. His footwork and mechanics are solid, and he has a strong arm. It is no wonder Sark coveted him as much as he did.

The comparisons to Jalen Hurts because they are both named “Jalen”, both from Texas, and both playing for Alabama are just plain dumb and lazy. A more apt comparison might be to Teddy Bridgewater. Below is a comparison of the two quarterback from their junior high school seasons.

Player Milroe Bridgewater
PASS YDS 2,689 2,546
PASS TD 29 32
RUSH YDS 378 379
RUSH TD 8 5
H.S. HT 6'1.5" 6'2"
H.S. WT 192 180
DUAL QB RANK 4 5
OVERALL RANK 82 98

Much like Bridgewater, Milroe has a knack for escaping trouble in the pocket and converting plays into scores. He makes quick and smart decisions with the football. Another comparison could be that neither field general is getting much hype (yet!) as a high schooler and could be a bit underrated.

Of all the video available on the interwebz, you never see the young man overthrow a receiver who has broken free down the field (too soon?). He is equally adept at hitting the quick slants and the not-as-easy-as-it-looks screen passes. With Sark’s tutelage, Milroe could grow into something more than a 2 or 3 year back-up and taking over as a junior as some have assumed.

At 6’1.5”, Milroe lacks that half inch that the talking heads find so important. He cannot do anything about that, but he will surely be able to pack on another ten pounds of muscle to his current 192-pound frame. Bridgewater bulked up to 205 as a junior at Louisville and is currently listed at 215 with the Carolina Panthers.

Academics was a big factor for Milroe’s decision and he plans on being a business major.

[SIDE NOTE 2: High 4-star DE Tunmise Adeleye was a Tompkins teammate before he transferred to IMG in January. He is eyeing Texas A&M and Florida along with Bama.]

2021 COMMITS

(EE = 12 Early Enrollees, so far)