TUSCALOOSA — Whether or not Blake Sims wins the Alabama starting quarterback job this season, the fifth-year senior has already earned a special place in the hearts and minds of his teammates and the coaching staff.
A member of the Crimson Tide’s 2010 recruiting class, Sims enters his final season at Alabama as one of the main competitors to replace three-year starter AJ McCarron. He has battled redshirt junior Jacob Coker, redshirt sophomore Alec Morris, redshirt freshman Cooper Bateman and true freshman David Cornwell.
There’s a chance Sims will take the opening snap in the Tide’s season opener against West Virginia in Atlanta on Saturday. After that, everything remains a mystery.
Tide coach Nick Saban said Sims has “done great” in handling the competition.
“If you look at Blake’s five-year career here, he’s played every position we’ve ever asked him to play,” Saban said. “He’s done whatever we’ve asked him to do for the team. He’s very well-liked by all the players on the team. He’s a really good guy to lead and it really is not always about him. He really does a lot to serve other people and help other people.
“He sets a good example in how he works, and I think he’s always put the team first. I think he’s certainly done that in this competition, and I’m very pleased with the way he’s managed this.”
During his time in Tuscaloosa, Sims has worked at three positions. He started out as a defensive back before moving to running back. Sims settled in at quarterback in his third year on campus, spending the past two seasons as McCarron’s backup.
Saban said moving players around is normal. While others may have complained, Saban said Sims always agreed with the coaches’ decisions.
“He always trusted in the coaching staff, but I always think he wanted to play,” Saban said. “Blake’s a really, really good athlete. We never tried to make him play other things. We tried to create a role for him somewhere on the team because we always thought he was one of the better athletes on the team. So if he wasn’t going to be the first or second quarterback, could he contribute to the team in another position on the team? … But because Blake is such a good athlete, he was willing to do whatever it takes to help the team.”
Tide tight end Brian Vogler said Sims is one of the more athletic people he has ever met, adding that he has seen Sims run up a wall and do a backflip. Vogler said he and Sims have known each other since they were sophomores in high school. Both natives of Georgia, the two met on the recruiting trail and through the high school basketball circuit. They also played on the same seven-on-seven team in high school.
“Watching him interact with the other guys, there’s not a guy on the team that he doesn’t get along with,” Vogler said. “He goes out of his way to make sure he knows people. And when you can see that somebody is having a bad day, he’s that guy that’s there to pick them up.”
Tide safety Nick Perry, a member of Sims’ recruiting class, described Sims as a “fun-loving guy” who is the “life of the party.” Perry also said Sims is “emotional” in a good way because he’s very “passionate.” Perry added that if “you can imagine a great teammate,” it would be Sims.
“He’s a perfect teammate. He’ll do anything to help the team out, help the team win,” Perry said. “He did everything that coach Saban asked him to do. If he asked him to return punts, Blake would have done it. I just feel like it’s paying off now.”
Sports Writer Marq Burnett: On Twitter @Marq_Burnett.