Make No Mistake, The 2021 Tide Will be Led by Bryce Young
The Alabama Crimson Tide will officially begin the 2021 season preparations with its first Spring practice March 17, yet less than a month away, rumblings within the fanbase on the quarterback situation have begun to fire up over the past few days.
A video of Paul Tyson hitting a few passing drills surfaced Sunday that stirred up the fan base ahead of Spring training.
There's no denying it, Tyson looks great and fans should absolutely be excited for his development.
When Tyson was recruited to Alabama for the 2019 season, he seemed destined to be a starting quarterback for the Crimson Tide. Not only does Tyson have measurables, standing a strong 6'5" and weighing 230lbs, he has the lineage as well. Being Paul "Bear" Bryant's great grandson is quite the pressure cooker to boot.
Then Nick Saban's recruiting staff landed the top quarterback prospect the following year in the 2020 class in Bryce Young and many fans forgot about the promising Paul Tyson. Young comes in without the size (6', 190lbs) and crossed the country from California.
I can't blame those rooting for Tyson. He's the home-grown, prototype quarterback with Crimson and White in his heritage. It makes sense. If Tyson pulls the upset and wins the job in 2021, I'm here for it.
The thing is, though, is that he won't.
No, it doesn't matter that Bryce was the top quarterback in the 2020 class and Tyson wasn't even the highest recruited quarterback in the 2019 class for Alabama (that would be Taulia Tagovailoa.) It doesn't come down to any sort of preferential treatment for either case, the lineage or the blue-blood Californian. After all, under Saban, the most talented player always plays.
No, instead it has more to do with Young having already won the job in 2020.
Yes, this is a new year. The Alabama Crimson Tide is looking to replace eight offensive starters as well as the offensive coordinator, offensive line coach and running backs coach. If anything truly opens the door for Tyson, it's these realities. Who knows, maybe when practices get started, he looks like a more natural fit in new offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien's scheme.
The hurdle remains for Tyson, though, that he's seen game action just once in two years at Alabama: vs. Western Carolina in 2019. It's difficult to make an impression without much opportunity. There's just not a lot of tape for O'Brien and his staff to study.
What's difficult and often overlooked in this situation, is that Tyson likely would have gotten reps in 2020 if not for the pandemic. Unlike with Tua Tagovailoa in the previous two seasons, Saban kept Mac Jones in the game deep into most fourth quarters of the 13-game season, leaving little time for the back ups to get on the field.
The one who did get those reps was Young. He played in eight games last season, throwing for 156 yards and a touchdown on 13 of 22 passes. The most concerning aspect of Young's game was no doubt his pocket presence. Though he didn't play often behind starters, Young didn't exactly look completely comfortable until he took over in the Kentucky game. He was sacked at least once in six of his eight appearances.
What's impressive about Young even being the backup in 2020 was how his freshman season was disrupted. Young enrolled early to the University of Alabama to get a head start on the playbook, but soon after he arrived, the COVID-19 pandemic took away Spring practices and personal contact with his team for weeks on end.
Despite limited practice and coaching time, Bryce Young was the unquestioned backup to Jones last year.
While Tyson winning the starting gig isn't half as unrealistic as Young taking the Job from Jones a year ago, it's simply not the likeliest option.
Young is expected to get the first team reps out of the gate based on last year's depth chart, and though anything can happen, don't expect the 5-star QB to let the job slip away.