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How Alabama’s Mac Jones went from Tua Tagovailoa’s backup to Heisman Trophy finalist

Mac Jones had large sneakers to fill in Tuscaloosa. Alabama program nice Tua Tagovailoa was gone for the NFL, and stepping in can be the profession backup quarterback, Jones. The consensus was simple: Jones was no Tagovailoa, and he won’t even be a Jalen Hurts. 

It is true that Jones has turned out to be neither of these gamers. However his play has been practically as dominant as Tagovailoa at his finest, pushing Alabama to an undefeated common season and a berth within the Faculty Soccer Playoff as soon as once more. Jones has carried out so effectively that each he and his prime large receiver, Devonta Smith, are Heisman Trophy finalists, two of 4 chosen in all the nation. The 6-3 redshirt junior went from mop-up time QB to first-round NFL Draft prospect.

“Mac, for the perseverance,” Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian stated lately, per 247Sports. “This can be a man who waited his flip, obtained thrown to the fireplace late final season, confirmed some resiliency bouncing again from a few interceptions within the Auburn sport. After which this offseason got here and virtually simply would not be denied and set himself up for an amazing season. And so the outcomes that he is having now, I am very pleased with him, and I am glad for him as a result of he is earned it.”

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Jones did not present up at Alabama as the everyday Crimson Tide recruit, having decommitted from Kentucky earlier than signing with Alabama. Having solely three stars subsequent to his title made him an anomaly in a 2017 class that featured six five-stars, 18 four-stars and solely six gamers with three or fewer stars (in keeping with 247Sports). There have been large names in that group: Najee Harris, Jerry Jeudy, Dylan Moses, Devonta Smith, Henry Ruggs, Alex Leatherwood, Jedrick Wills and, in fact, Tagovailoa. Hurts was already there and had began as a freshman.

A typical chorus about fashionable faculty soccer revolves across the overabundance of transfers. It is most noticeable on the quarterback place, since a staff can solely have one man taking part in that spot. Jones transferring would not have been illogical, not if he did the maths and noticed three or 4 years of sitting behind Hurts and/or Tagovailoa. He stayed put, although.

As a redshirt freshman, Jones performed in six video games and tried 13 passes. He was referred to as additional into responsibility in 2019 when Tagovailoa suffered a season-ending hip harm. Jones began the season’s remaining three video games and threw 10 touchdowns (together with two interceptions in opposition to Auburn).

Even that efficiency with out Tagovailoa did not assure Jones the 2020 job. Prime recruit Bryce Younger was coming to city with a declare to the highlight. However in an uncommon offseason, Jones held Younger off and would not let go of his beginning spot.

Earlier than the season, Tim Tebow told Sporting News that he thought “it will be Mac’s staff.” However the anticipation elsewhere was that Jones could fall principally in a sport supervisor function, handing the ball off to Harris and letting Alabama’s standout receivers make performs. 

As soon as the video games began, Jones confirmed he is a playmaker in his personal proper. In Alabama’s second sport, a win over Texas A&M, Jones threw for 435 yards and 4 TDs. It was the primary of three-straight video games exceeding 400 yards, with Jones capping that stretch with one other 4 passing scores in opposition to Georgia. 

Jones turned heads along with his deep ball, hitting his wideouts in stride excessive seemingly at any time when he needed to.

“I actually just like the contact, ball placement and trajectory on these vertical pictures,” ESPN draft expert Todd McShay wrote earlier this season.

Jones was his dominant self as soon as once more within the SEC Championship sport, throwing for 418 yards and 5 touchdowns in a slim win over Florida. 

“Shoutout to Coach Saban for getting me to Alabama and giving me an opportunity,” Jones told SEC Network after that win. “My teammates, clearly, make me look so much higher than I’m and so they at all times do their job. And I simply attempt to do my job to one of the best of my potential and tonight was only a nice staff win.”

Jones may return to Alabama for an additional season, however his drastic rise into the primary spherical of most NFL mock drafts factors to him testing the professional waters after this season. First, although, there is a Faculty Soccer Playoff to play and a (digital) Heisman Trophy ceremony to attend. 

Who may’ve seen that coming?

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