Alabama’s AJ McCarron declines offer to play in the Senior Bowl

Published 11:02am Thursday, January 16, 2014

This year’s Senior Bowl game will be 29th straight game that my dad and I have attended.
According to my mom, my first Senior Bowl was in 1986 when I was 2 years old. I am now 30 years old and will be 31 in October, so I guess you can say going to the Senior Bowl with dad has become a tradition.
As long as I can remember, or it may have just been something new, but every Christmas, a Senior Bowl ticket can be found in my dad’s stocking as well as mine.
This year was no different as Old Saint Nick dropped another one in the old stocking again this year. While I do have a ticket to the game, I was able to get a sidelines photo press credential to the game. While this will be my first time doing this, I am looking forward to it. I think it will be neat to be on the sideline with some of the next stars of the National Football League only a few feet away from me going hard at it to impress NFL scouts to hopefully have that chance of playing on Sundays at the next level.
While being on the field and not in the stands with my dad will be a little different, another thing that will be strange for the 2014 game is there will be no AJ McCarron—the former quarterback of the Alabama Crimson Tide.
I know McCarron has probably taken a lot of flack from his decision not to play in the game, and yes it is his decision, but do you know how many people—adults and kids—were counting on seeing him play one last time in an Alabama helmet in his hometown of Mobile? Just think of how many people love him and love Alabama football? McCarron himself would have helped the Senior Bowl sell a lot of tickets to the game if he had decided to play in it.
McCarron even said the other day in his statement about him declining to play in the game that it has always been a dream of his to play in the game.
“I really appreciate being invited to play in the Senior Bowl,” McCarron told al.com. “It is quite an honor and something I’ve dreamed about while growing up in the Mobile area. However, at this time, I’m putting all of my focus and energy into preparing for the NFL Combine, pro day and the rest of the pre-draft evaluation process. Therefore, I won’t be taking part in the Senior Bowl.”
There may be more to this situation that we have not heard, but I think he is making a mistake to not play in the game. But that is my own personal opinion.
McCarron had a great career at the University of Alabama. He put up many great stats, broke many records, and won two national championships as a starter and three overall.
But while this is a great accomplishment, he will be remembered by some as going out with two losses at Alabama. Yeah, the Auburn game was not really his fault. But I would have to say that one of his worst games came in his last game at Alabama as the Crimson Tide lost to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.
I thank AJ for all he did at Alabama. He is an awesome player and I hope he goes on and does well in the NFL, but he should be playing in the game. If it had not been for the Oklahoma loss, I could say it would be a wise decision not to play in the game and just let what he did at Alabama be his statement. But to go out the way he did against Oklahoma…how could you not play in the game and improve your chances of being drafter higher in the draft?
McCarron, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting, has had his decision not to play in the game wrote about by many, but one story I read today was a little different than others.
ESPN writer Michael DiRocco wrote in a blog that “McCarron’s puzzling decision to skip the Senior Bowl has people — possibly even Jaguars GM David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley — wondering about his competitiveness.”
DiRocco’s blog went on to say that “there is no better chance for a college player to measure himself against some of the best players in the country than at the Senior Bowl. It’s a chance to improve draft status by playing well in practices throughout the week, shining in meetings with an NFL coaching staff, and performing well on game day. It’s a week that can turn a mid-round draft pick into potentially a late first-rounder. McCarron is viewed as a late first- or early second-round draft pick by some analysts while some have him even lower. The Jaguars are coaching the South team, on which McCarron would have presumably been placed. It’s no secret the Jaguars need a quarterback, but the decision Caldwell has to make is whether to draft a quarterback with the No. 3 overall selection or take a pass-rusher with that pick and wait until the second round or even later to draft a quarterback. If Caldwell went with the second option, McCarron was one of the quarterbacks that most likely would be available in the second round. Being able to work with McCarron for a week would have been invaluable for Jaguars quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo and offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch. McCarron’s decision to skip brings into question one of the key traits that the Jaguars want in all their players: a competitive fire. It’s an even more important trait in a quarterback, and McCarron’s decision brings that into question.”
McCarron, who had a 36-4 record and two BCS national titles with the Crimson Tide, was one of six quarterbacks who were invited to the game, which is held on Jan. 25 in Mobile, Ala.
McCarron, ranked as the 43rd best player available — and fourth-best QB — in the NFL draft by Scouts Inc., is viewed as a late first- or early second-round draft pick by some analysts.
Other quarterbacks who have already committed to the Senior Bowl — which pits the best college players in a North vs. South format — include Tajh Boyd (Clemson), Derek Carr (Fresno State), David Fales (San Jose State), Stephen Morris (Miami) and Logan Thomas (Va. Tech).
As Alabama’s starting quarterback, McCarron led the Crimson Tide to back-to-back national titles in 2011 and 2012 and finished second in the 2013 Heisman Trophy voting. He holds Alabama’s career records for total offensive yards, passing yards and touchdown passes.
McCarron started 40 games over his final three seasons for Alabama, where he won 36 games including two BCS National Championships. He finished his career with consecutive losses to Auburn and Oklahoma, but compiled 9,019 passing yards and 77 passing touchdowns over four years. The quarterback only had 15 interceptions over three seasons as a starter.
The NFL Combine will be held Feb. 22-25 while Alabama’s Pro Day is usually held in March.
AJ’s father, Tony McCarron, said that his son’s agent, Todd France, thought it best not to compete in the bowl game.
“The reason AJ didn’t say anything for sure before the bowl game is because he had already decided to put that decision in his agent’s hands, but he didn’t know who that was going to be yet,” Tony McCarron told College Football 24/7. “But that’s the advice he got, and if you’re going to pay those people, you’ve got to trust them. All I can say is, the people who criticize it don’t have a thing to lose.”
I understand the quote completely. No, we don’t have anything to lose, other than some who might have missed a chance to see AJ play at Alabama and wanted to see him play in the all-star game in Mobile and meet and take pictures with the hometown star. Now, they will never get that chance now.
The Senior Bowl takes place on Jan. 25 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile.

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