TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama quarterback Blake Sims headed to south Florida for spring break like countless other college students.
Unlike them, he spent four sun-splashed days working on things like footwork and arm position. It was a business trip for Sims, who finally is getting his chance to compete for the Crimson Tide's starting job after spending one season as a running back and two backing up AJ McCarron.
"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity," Sims said. "I'm having fun out there. Everybody's smiling. Everybody's having fun. Just trying to do what we've got to do to be the best."
The senior spent about five hours a day last week working with quarterbacks coach Ken Mastole. He's trying to make the most of his first shot at winning the starting job.
Sims is the only one of Alabama's five quarterbacks this spring who has thrown a pass in college, though he's known more for his running ability. Florida State transfer Jake Coker arrives this summer as the presumed front-runner.
Sims has seen limited action in 18 games the past two seasons. More than half of his 244 career passing yards (130) came in a route of Georgia State last season, and he's also run for 355 yards.
"He can execute an offense at the collegiate level," Mastole said Thursday in a phone interview. "I mean, there's no question about it. Is he going to stand up there and be that big, attractive guy that the naked eye of the average fan can watch and say, 'Wow?' Like Andrew Luck has a nice release or Aaron Rodgers just looks pretty throwing the football? There's going to be sometimes where it comes out a little bit sideways.
"For Alabama football, he can definitely play within that offense, it's just going to be him digesting a new system and then letting him absorb all the information so that when he goes out there he can be that Blake Sims that people remember from high school in Georgia as a sensational player."
Mastole's clients include NFL draft prospects Teddy Bridgewater and Tajh Boyd and the Buffalo Bills' EJ Manuel.