Every season has its memorable moments and game-changing performances, so we’re counting down the 25 most important figures within or around the Crimson Tide program (or foes) who will determine whether Alabama’s upcoming season is a success.
No. 17: Blake Sims
A disclaimer: We can’t predict the future, but it doesn’t stop us from trying. If Sims maintains his spot atop the quarterback depth chart, you better believe he’s higher than 17th.
That said, Sims is solidly in the top 25 no matter what happens in the battle to replace AJ McCarron.
Sims’ poor performance at A-Day can’t be forgotten. He was inaccurate on the majority of his throws and looked out of sync from start to finish. He did little to instill confidence in a fan base that anointed Florida State transfer Jacob Coker the frontrunner as soon as he signed on the dotted line.
Just don’t label what happened at Bryant-Denny Stadium on that sunny April Saturday the end-all, be-all.
Sims was Alabama’s best quarterback for the first 14 spring practices. He not only threw a better ball than he did in his previous two years as McCarron’s backup, but he also embraced the leadership opportunity that came with being Alabama’s de facto QB1. He worked at it on and off the field.
“You want to know all your players’ background because you can’t always just go at them the same way if you don’t know their background,” Sims said in April. “You’ve got to know what makes them smile. I try not to be a nagging player. I try to come up to them so that they know when Blake comes up to them, they know that I’m coming with positive things and to pick them up.”
Comments like that are why Sims is very popular with his teammates, especially the veterans who have seen him come so far in his development as more than just a running quarterback. The ones who were less politically correct in their answers with reporters didn’t shy away from revealing the pecking order that emerged during the spring.
“Blake has made a big step up from last year to right now, especially with taking on the role of starting quarterback,” wide receiver Chris Black said. “I’m proud of him with that.”
Even if Sims doesn’t win the job, he still could fill an important role on the offense.
Coach Nick Saban has seen a handful of mobile quarterbacks carve up his defense with their legs, and it’s clear the athletic Sims has something the rest of Alabama’s quarterbacks don’t. Saban went out of his way to explain how the limitations of a black, non-contact jersey prevented Sims from truly letting loose at A-Day.
Could there be a special package designed to utilize Sims in the event he doesn’t win the job? We’ll have to wait and see, but he’s already shown enough to believe he’ll be one of Alabama’s best leaders no matter how much he plays.