Mac Jones: From the Bench to the Headlines
By WVUA 23 Contributor Harrison Holland
An all-too-common theme in college football is the transfer of a backup quarterback. Rarely does a player, especially a quarterback, stay at a program until he wins the job. Mac Jones did that.
Part of Alabama’s 2017 recruiting class, the Jacksonville, Flori, native arrived in Tuscaloosa without hype, unlike his left-handed classmate Tua Tagovailoa. Additionally, the Crimson Tide had reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Year Jalen Hurts on the roster.
Neither name deterred Jones from choosing Alabama.
“It said how confident the kid was,” Former Alabama assistant and current Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin told ESPN.
After Hurts transferred following the 2018 season, Jones stepped into the backup role behind the All-American Tagovailoa. But the former three-star prospect eventually finished 2019 as the starting quarterback after an unfortunate end to Tagovailoa’s college career.
Injuries derailed a promising, championship-contending season. Alabama finished with an 11-2 record, excluded from the College Football Playoff for the first time. Jones was impressive though, throwing for 937 yards and 10 touchdowns. Two interceptions were the only blemishes in an otherwise impressive performance.
It created momentum.
“I learned a lot from Tua [Tagovailoa],” Jones told reporters after Alabama’s Citrus Bowl victory over Michigan. “He still helps us out. But it is my team.”
Declarations like that are difficult to fulfill, especially with the arrival of highly-touted recruit Bryce Young, a quarterback labeled as a future star. Jones stuck to his word though, and teammates took notice of the leadership role he naturally embraced after three years in the program.
“Well, I think Mac Jones has taken more of a personal role,” Junior wide receiver Jaylen Waddle told AL.com. “He is more confident.”
The Jones-Young battle occupied headlines for the entirety of preseason practice. Teammates publicly praised both, but an important asset to a quarterback is stability, which is Jones’ best trait. With experience comes a steady hand. And no matter the talent of Young, a schedule of 10 inner-conference games presents unique challenges to all, especially young players.
Jones did not relinquish his role. He waited long enough, and most importantly, performed well enough to win the trust of coaches and teammates.
“Yes, I believe in Mac the same way I believed in Tua,” All-American wide receiver DeVonta Smith said. “He’s come a very long way and I’m excited for him.”
For obvious reasons, much of the country had not seen Jones’ potential until he was unleashed against Missouri in the first game. Teammates see his actions daily, further proving why they are confident. Jones is an impressive fourth-year quarterback who now leads his team toward their goal of a national championship.
“He’s that guy, don’t kid yourself,” Private quarterback coach Joe Dickinson said. “A silent assassin.”