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OU football: How AJ McCarron's career turned out different at Alabama

The quarterback might have had less playing time had he joined the Sooners out of high school.
by Ryan Aber Published: December 12, 2013

— AJ McCarron's made a life-changing decision shortly after he woke up on Feb. 4, 2009.

He'd gone to bed the night before planning on signing with Oklahoma, despite a long commitment to Alabama, the team that his family had cheered on for years.

“I just liked their football,” McCarron told Alabama reporters this week. “During recruiting as a 17-, 18-year-old, your mind changes about 20 times a day. At the moment, I guess they were just the hot school that I wanted to go to.”

Next month, he'll finish his Alabama career in the Sugar Bowl against the Sooners.

Things likely would've ended much different for McCarron had he indeed flipped from the Crimson Tide.

Instead of signing McCarron in that class, the Sooners inked Drew Allen from San Antonio Alamo Heights.

It's not hard to see McCarron's path for the Sooners being similar to Allen's.

When McCarron considered Oklahoma, he did it envisioning himself as the replacement for Sam Bradford after Bradford's likely early departure following his junior year in 2009.

Had Bradford stayed healthy, McCarron likely would've entered the quarterback competition in the spring of 2010 on at least equal footing with sophomore Landry Jones. Both would've been well ahead of incoming freshman Blake Bell.

But circumstances meant that whichever quarterback the Sooners signed in 2009 was going to be in a bad position.

Instead of Bradford staying healthy and making a run toward another Heisman Trophy, he suffered a shoulder injury in the season-opener against BYU and Jones was forced into action.

Bradford returned a few weeks later but in the OU-Texas game, the second game after his return, Bradford reinjured the shoulder and was lost for the season.

Instead of a wide-open quarterback battle like Bell and Trevor Knight went through before this season, Jones got a lengthy audition and it was clear that he was the Sooners' quarterback of the future.

Continue reading this story on the...

by Ryan Aber
OU Athletics Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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