NEW ORLEANS — Alabama's wildly successful AJ McCarron era ends Thursday night in the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma, and strangely enough, the Crimson Tide's quarterback of the future might very well reside in Norman.
Norman North's David Cornwell, a four-star prospect and the nation's fifth-best 2014 quarterback prospect according to Rivals, moves to Tuscaloosa on Sunday and will immediately enter the battle to replace McCarron, Alabama's winningest quarterback.
Junior Blake Sims is Alabama's only returning quarterback next season with any significant playing experience. The Crimson Tide also return redshirt freshman Alec Morris and true freshmen Cooper Bateman, Parker McLeod and Luke Del Rio, a former Oklahoma State commitment who chose instead to walk-on in Tuscaloosa.
“A lot of those guys have experience on me,” Cornwell said. “It'll all start (in the spring) and then be won in fall camp. I'll build on that and make a run during the fall camp.”
Cornwell's senior season at Norman North ended prematurely when he suffered a knee injury in the Timberwolves' fifth game. He said he expects to be fully recovered by the time Alabama's winter workouts begin in February.
The Crimson Tide is a year behind its opponent in Thursday's Sugar Bowl when it comes to replacing a steady, reliable winner at the all-important quarterback position.
Oklahoma enjoyed six seasons of quarterback prosperity between 2007 and 2012 with record-breakers Sam Bradford and Landry Jones, who posted a combined 63 wins and four Big 12 championships.
Junior Blake Bell, sophomore Kendal Thompson and redshirt freshman Trevor Knight competed through spring practices and fall camp to replace Jones. Knight won the job initially, but was replaced by Bell after struggling and suffering a knee injury.