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Spring Sneak Peek: Quarterback

BamaOnLine.com takes a look ahead at the quarterback position.

McCarron's return solidified UA as the favorite to win it all in 2013.

Returning starter: 10 A.J. McCarron (Sr.).

In the mix: 6 Blake Sims (Jr.); 12 Phillip Ely (So.); 11 Alec Morris (rFr.); Cooper Bateman] (Fr.); Parker McLeod (Fr.); Luke Del Rio (Fr.).

Did you know? In quarterbacking UA to back-to-back national championships, McCarron became the first signal caller in school history to win two crowns as a starter ... In the past six football seasons, McCarron has been a part of a high school state championship team and three national title squads ... McCarron threw four touchdown passes in four different games (WKU, Tennessee, Auburn and Notre Dame) in 2012. He was held without a scoring toss in just one game: Missouri ... Of McCarron's 30 touchdowns passes a season ago, 15 covered 22 yards or more ... McCarron finished the season as the nation's most efficient passer at 175.28 ... Ely accounted for Alabama's only other touchdown pass of the season, hooking up with Eddie Lacy on a 27-yard scoring toss against Mississippi State.

The big question: Really, it's twofold: Who will be McCarron's backup and will the backup emerge as the top candidate to step in as the starter in 2014? It's a question that went all of the 2012 season without being answered. With his ability to carry out the zone read package, Sims can hold down the fort in case of an emergency. But if McCarron is lost for an extended period of time, UA will need a quarterback who can make good use of the weapons this offense has at receiver.

Time to make a move: Almost immediately following Alabama's BCS Championship Game win over Notre Dame, reports of a possible transfer of Ely from UA to South Florida began to swirl. With four freshmen looking to establish themselves as the future at the position, a sink or swim kind of spring is on tap for the redshirt sophomore.

Best of the bunch: Two years ago, there was debate as to whether McCarron was the best quarterback on the roster. Two national championships later, the argument centers on where he ranks all-time among Crimson Tide signal callers.

Mr Potential: As the No. 5 pro-style quarterback in 247sports.com's class of 2013 rankings, Bateman comes to Tuscaloosa as the second-highest ranked signal caller in the Nick Saban era at Alabama. Both Morris and Bateman can make SEC throws, but it remains to be seen how well either processes information once the ball is snapped.

Don't be shocked if: With three new faces in the mix, plenty of attention will be paid to the long-term prospects of the position. At this point, though, don't be surprised if a clear-cut successor to McCarron's throne isn't established by A-Day.

Lest we forget: Between the return of McCarron and one of the nation's top receiving corps, throwing and catching won't be much of a problem. However, with three long-time offensive line starters off to the NFL, pass protection will be something to keep an eye on.

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