The Spring Prospectus is a daily series taking a quick look at each position group before UA beings spring practice. This list of position groups will be updated with links as each one posts: running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive line, defensive line, inside linebackers, outside linebackers, cornerbacks, safeties and special teams.
For a program that experiences NFL Draft churn at a higher rate than most, the University of Alabama football team has had no issues with returning quarterback production. In each of the last three seasons, UA has returned at least 23 passing touchdowns from the previous season.
This year, UA returns 16 touchdown passes. Four of those came against FCS Western Carolina; three more came against SEC cellar dweller Arkansas.
With little returning production and a highly touted addition to the position, UA quarterbacks will be under a powerful microscope when they begin spring practice on March 13.
Top returners: Mac Jones, after starting four games last season.
Losses: Tua Tagovailoa (NFL Draft).
Returning depth: Taulia Tagovailoa, Paul Tyson.
Early enrollees: Bryce Young, five-star from Pasadena, California.
Young came to campus as the No. 2 recruit in the nation in the 247 Sports Composite, an honor previously bestowed upon highly hyped prospects such as Myles Garrett, Najee Harris, Justin Fields. That status — on top of a record-breaking high school career — has many looking at him as a 2020 starter as early as the season opener against USC, where he first committed.
That would require an upheaval of Jones, who performed admirably in Tagovailoa’s injury absences: in the four full games he played, he completed 70 of his 98 passes (71.4 percent), averaging 11.9 yards per attempt and tossing 12 touchdowns to two interceptions.
In those four games — plus the two times he had to play a second half in Tagovailoa’s absence — Jones learned a valuable lesson about the job of a UA quarterback in this era.
“It’s really easier when you have the best players around you,” Jones said after the Citrus Bowl. “Coach (Nick) Saban always tells me, ‘Just do my job, get them the ball and they’ll make the plays.’ So, looking forward, we have a good group. Like I said, we have a long offseason and a lot to work on, and I’m really fired up to keep working.”
The spring will help sort out that pecking order for Jones, Young and the next Tagovailoa: Taulia, who played in five games in 2019.