Today we’re covering the greatest Alabama Crimson Tide quarterbacks of all time, meaning a dive into several National Championship seasons. Many of those were undefeated seasons, with quarterbacks having played at a high standard at Alabama for a very long time.

The locker room of Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones has become a well known story, with all three progressing to starting roles in the NFL, but there are talents who date further back than just the past few years.

Let’s roll it back and look at some of the greatest to ever throw for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Who is the starting Quarterback for Alabama in 2023?

Jalen Milroe took over as the starting quarterback for the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2023, replacing the first overall pick Bryce Young. Milroe was a four star recruit out of Katy, Texas, who chose Nick Saban’s program over the likes of Texas and Arizona in 2021.

He’s a dual threat quarterback with a big arm, now in his third season with the program. 2023 is his first season as the team’s starting quarterback, and while he might be a raw talent, the development during the 2023 season was extremely clear. 2024 should be an even more impressive showing from the Alabama quarterback.

Who are the Alabama Crimson Tide’s backup Quarterbacks in 2023?

Jalen Milroe’s backups in 2023 are Ty Simpson and Dylan Lonergan. Simpson is a former five star recruit from Martin, Tennessee, who headed to Alabama as part of the 2022 recruiting class. 2023 is his second year with the program, and he’s pinned as the starter that will take over when Milroe moves on.

Lonergan is a four star recruit from Snellville, Georgia, who is in his freshman year with the program in 2023.

History of Alabama Quarterbacks

Alabama has had quite the run of quarterbacks since the early 2000s, but there have been a couple of legendary signal callers that made their way through the program long before that.

Today’s list will cover all of the greats, from ‘Broadway Joe’ and Ken Stabler, to the most recent stars at the position in the likes of Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones, all of which were starting quarterbacks in the NFL in 2023.

Bart Starr might not have made the top ten here, but is still a recognized alumnus of the program who went on to unrivaled success in the NFL as a Green Bay Packer.

Active Alabama Quarterbacks in the NFL

Bryce Young’s debut season in the NFL came in 2023, and while it wasn’t exactly the start to life in the pro’s that he would have liked, the Panthers have a long way to go in building a roster around him that will allow him to succeed.

Tua Tagovailoa was then putting up ridiculous numbers with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle in Miami, while Jalen Hurts tussled for another trip to the SuperBowl with the Philadelphia Eagles, two of the most promising Alabama quarterbacks in the NFL in history.

Mac Jones had his struggles in New England and may need a fresh start elsewhere, and A.J. McCarron is still in the league now as a backup quarterback with the Cincinnati Bengals.

That means that Alabama’s last four starting quarterbacks were all starters in the NFL at the beginning of the 2023 season. An impressive run from Nick Saban’s prestigious program.

Ranking the Top 10 Greatest Alabama Crimson Tide Quarterbacks of all time

  1. Pat Trammell (1959-1961)

Pat Trammell was the quarterback who led Alabama to its very first National Championship in 1961. He was originally committed to Georgia Tech, but after relentless persistence from the great Bear Bryant, Trammell changed his mind and headed to the Crimson Tide.

Bryant had hinged his return to Alabama on Trammell’s decision. He had previously been an assistant at the program in the late 30s, and now as an established head coach, he wanted Trammell as his quarterback.

That turned out to be a superb decision, with the two forming one of the most dangerous offenses in college football. At the time, winning a National Championship seemed an outrageous feat, but Bear Bryant had promised it within four years, and together they delivered.

In 1961, Pat Trammell was named the SEC Most Valuable Player, SEC Player of the Year, and an Academic All-American, all while finishing fifth in voting for the Heisman Trophy. Trammell had a brilliant sense and anticipation for the game, and his photographic memory served him well by allowing him to seemingly see the game unfold before it even happened. He knew where everybody was going to be and carved up defenses as a result.

Tragically, cancer took over Trammell’s life in his 20s, and as it spread to his brain he knew. Rather than hide away in self pity, Trammell spent as much time as he possibly could around the Alabama team, bringing his son with him to practices and games. He lost his battle with cancer at the age of 28, and his close friend Martin Lester famously claimed, ‘he died an All-American’.

Pat Trammell is one of the most respected former Alabama quarterbacks, who’s memory lives on with the program to this day.

  1. Jay Barker (1991-1994)

Jay Barker was the main man for the Alabama Crimson Tide in the early 90s. He was from Birmingham, Alabama. Barker chose to stay local and play Alabama football, and certainly didn’t disappoint.

Barker's journey at Alabama was marked by a stellar partnership with head coach Gene Stallings. Under Stallings' guidance, Barker showcased his leadership skills and talent at QB, guiding the Crimson Tide to an impressive undefeated season in 1992. They beat out the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship game, and then took down the Miami Hurricanes in the National Championship, finishing off a perfect 13-0 campaign.

Known for his poise in the pocket and decision-making, Barker earned the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award in 1994, recognizing him as the nation's top senior quarterback. He was also named the SEC Player of the Year that season and would be drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 5th round of the 1995 draft.

Barker might not have made it in the NFL but he went on to have a successful career in broadcasting on ESPN radio.

  1. Greg McElroy (2007-2010)

Greg McElroy is one of the most intelligent quarterbacks Alabama has ever had and delivered both on and off the field for the program during his tenure as the starting quarterback. He played his high school football in Southlake, Texas, and flipped his commitment from Texas Tech to Alabama.

He was the first quarterback for the Tide in the Nick Saban era and emerged as a key leader for Alabama. His defining moment came during the 2009 season when he led the Crimson Tide to a perfect 14-0 record, securing a National Championship with a victory over the Texas Longhorns. McElroy made countless plays in big moments during his time at Alabama, and that 14-0 season was one of the great standalone seasons we’ve seen from any Alabama team.

In the 2009 SEC Championship Game, he orchestrated a memorable performance against the Florida Gators, earning MVP honors and propelling Alabama to the national title game.

Off the field, McElroy's academic prowess was evident, earning recognition as an SEC Scholar-Athlete. His commitment to excellence extended beyond football, reflecting the values instilled by the Alabama program.

He was rewarded for his efforts in 2010, being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a National Football Foundation scholar/athlete.

McElroy has since gone on to a successful career in television broadcasting, working on the SEC Network and ESPN.

  1. Ken Stabler (1964-1967)

Ken Stabler went on to win the NVL MVP as a member of the Oakland Raiders, as well as bringing the franchise a Super Bowl and multiple successful seasons. His career began at Alabama in 1954, as one of the most successful players of the Bear Bryant era.

Stabler was a freshman on the roster when the Tide won the National Championship in 1964. Joe Namath and Steve Sloan were ahead of him on the depth chart at the time, and he’d have to wait until 1966 to finally get his chance as the starting quarterback.

When he got his shot, he was ready for it. Stabler led the team to an 11-0 season, including the demolition of the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Sugar Bowl. That season is considered to be one of the biggest snubs in program history, with the Tide finishing third behind both Notre Dame and Michigan State despite their perfect record.

Stabler was named a First Team All-American and First Team All-SEC member in 1967, despite a slightly less impressive year for the Alabama offense.

He went on to a Hall of Fame career in the NFL, highlighted by winning Super Bowl XI with a 32-14 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

  1. Mac Jones (2017-2020)

Mac Jones had originally been committed to the University of Kentucky, but flipped his commitment to Alabama and arrived as an early enrollee in 2017. He would end up redshirting his freshman year as part of a crowded quarterback room and saw his first action a year later in 2018.

The Tide had just won the National Championship when Tua Tagovailoa took over in 2018, and as a result Mac Jones would have to wait patiently for his turn as the starting quarterback. He would occasionally come in as relief late in games, but eventually took over as the starter following the hip injury Tua suffered in 2019.

Jones threw 11 touchdowns that year, and in 2020 threw 27 TDs and over 3,300 passing yards in his only season as the teams’ full time starter. His performance helped lead the team to a 13-0 record and their second National Championship title in four years.

Mac had been so good that year that he won just about every award except the Heisman, which went to his receiver DeVonta Smith. Jones did win the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Manning award, Davey O’Brien award and was named both a Consensus All-American and a member of the First Team All-SEC.

He was drafted in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft, succeeding Tom Brady as the quarterback of the New England Patriots. His career hasn’t quite taken off in the NFL just yet, but a potential change of scenery could be what he needs to get things back on track. Don’t let his misfortune in 2023 fool you though, Mac Jones was one of the best Alabama quarterbacks in school history.

  1. Joe Namath (1961-1964)

Coach Bear Bryant led several of the quarterbacks on this list, but none greater than the legendary Joe Namath. Bryant said he was the ‘greatest athlete he ever coached’, and while ‘Broadway Joe’ is now an iconic figure of the NFL and a Super Bowl winning quarterback with the New York Jets, his success as a football player dates further back to his days at Alabama.

Namath was always an exceptional athlete, coming out of high school having played football, basketball, and baseball. When he graduated the likes of the Yankees, Indians, Pirates and Phillies all offered him deals, and was very close to signing with the Pirates because of his idol, Roberto Clemente.

He eventually decided to go to college and play football. Over the course of three seasons at Alabama Joe Namath led the team to a 29-4 record and three Bowl game appearances. In his third and final season in 1964 Namath helped the Crimson Tide win the National Championship. He’d been suspended for the final two games of the 1963 season, so he came back a year later and led the team to the National Championship title with a 10-0 record.

Namath had a close relationship with Coach Bryant and was one of the early stars to don the iconic Alabama number 12 jersey. When Namath was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985 he took time during his speech to speak about Bear Bryant, who had died just two years earlier.

  1. Jalen Hurts (2016-2018)

Jalen Hurts' career at Alabama was a wild ride and is sometimes cast aside due to the eventual transfer away from the team to Oklahoma. The fact is though that in his first two seasons with the team Hurts was electrifying to watch at times, serving as a dual threat quarterback that contributed 61 touchdowns in the pass and run game combined.

Hurts was a four star recruit out of Channelview, Texas who had been coached by his father in high school. He was heavily recruited by multiple schools, but offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin made enough of a push to have him commit to Alabama over Texas A&M.

Hurts would win the starting job as a true freshman, making him the first quarterback to do so at Alabama since Vince Sutton in 1984. He threw for 23 touchdowns that season, while also posting 954 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. The following season was even more efficient, if not quite as explosive. Hurts managed 17 passing TDs and only one pick, with another 855 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns.

When he was benched at half time in the National Championship game, many believed he would quit on the team. Tua Tagovailoa had helped them win it all and looked set to be the starter the following season, but Jalen showed his character and stayed another year.

Eventually he would transfer to Oklahoma for a season and is now one of the standout quarterbacks in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles. Hurts is one of the most successful current Alabama players in the NFL, having reached a Super Bowl as well as signing one of the most lucrative contracts in NFL history. His relationship with Alabama remains a healthy one, and there’s no doubt he’s one of the greatest QBs in Alabama football history.

  1. Bryce Young (2020-2022)

Bryce Young is the most recent in a long string of talented Alabama quarterbacks to make their way into the NFL. He followed Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones, and became the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft after three years with the Tide.

As one of the most highly regarded high school recruits in the history of recruiting, Bryce Young received attention and offers from all over the country. Alabama secured his services, and after spending his freshman year as a backup, Young took over as the starter in 2021.

That season he threw 40 touchdown passes and over 3,898 passing yards in the regular season, with only four interceptions, quickly realizing his potential and taking the college football world by storm. He now holds the record for passing touchdowns in a single season at Alabama (47).

He was named a Consensus All-American, won the Heisman Trophy and the Maxwell and Davey O’Brien awards, the AP and Sporting News College Football Player of the Year and the SEC Offensive Player of the year, all in his first season starting at Alabama. It’s fair to say it was an astounding season.

His exceptional ability to improvise and extend plays always stood out on film, showing an ability to escape pressure and get his eyes downfield to find an open man. The NFL is proving to be a different beast for Bryce Young, but best believe one of the best Alabama football players of all time will figure it out.

  1. A.J. McCarron (2009-2013)

A.J. McCarron wasn’t a first round draft pick like some of the other Alabama QBs on this list, but his college career was every bit as impressive, if not more so.

McCarron was a part of the program for three of their BCS National Championships, although the first of the three came during his redshirt freshman season in 2009, led by Greg McElroy. One year later he started out the year sharing the starting role with Philip Sims, before claiming the spot for himself early in the year.

He had a great year in 2011, and the Tide would go on to win the National Championship against LSU that season, but many considered McCarron a game manager who was heavily supported by an all time defense and an exceptional run game.

The following season he broke through that narrative, throwing for 30 touchdowns and just three interceptions in 2012. His game winning drive against LSU became a defining moment, and the Tide would return to the National Championship once again, this time against Notre Dame.

McCarron threw 20 of 28 completions that day, totaling 264 passing yards and two touchdowns in the 42-14 blowout win over the Fighting Irish. It marked his third national title and the second he’d earned as the team’s starting quarterback, making him one of the best Alabama QBs of all time.

He now sits in second place on ‘Bama’s all time passing touchdown leaderboard, right behind Tua Tagovailoa, and has spent time both in the NFL and XFL since turning pro.

  1. Tua Tagovailoa (2017-2019)

Tua Tagovailoa’s introduction to the world was one of the craziest we’re ever likely to see. As a true freshman out of Honolulu, Hawaii, it was clear Alabama had found a gem. He had played intermittently that season, often in relief of Jalen Hurts late in games, and possessed a very different skillset to the second year starter.

When Hurts was struggling to find rhythm in the National Championship game against Georgia, Nick Saban made one of the boldest calls of his career. He benched his starting quarterback and gave the second half of the biggest game of the year to freshman Tua.

At that point, he’d never started a game at the college level, but had thrown eight touchdown passes in the regular season despite only appearing late in games. With Tua at quarterback the offense got rolling, and eventually found themselves back in the game and in overtime against the Bulldogs. We all know what happened next too, with Tua taking a sack that knocked them out of field goal range, only to come back the next play to find DeVonta Smith down the sideline for a walk off touchdown.

From that moment on it was Tua’s team, which wasn’t ideal for Jalen Hurts, but proved to be the right decision for the Tide. Tua led them back to the National Championship game the following season, only this time they fell short against Clemson.

Tua Tagovailoa is the school's record holder for passing touchdowns, throwing 87 in his three seasons with the team. He also holds records for passing touchdowns in a game with six against Ole Miss in 2019, and five on three other occasions.

Tua was twice named the Polynesian Player of the Year, while also winning the Maxwell and Walter Camp awards in 2018, along with the SEC Offensive Player of the Year, Sporting News College Football Player of the Year and was named a Consensus All-American.

His pinpoint accuracy led him to a career in the NFL, being selected 5th overall in the 2020 NFL draft. He’d battled his way back from an almost career ending hip injury and is now one of the most successful quarterbacks in the league. Is he the best Alabama quarterback of all time? We think so.

Parameters for Rankings

These Alabama quarterbacks have been ranked based on their career achievements as members of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Their NFL success has not been taken into consideration here, which is why Bart Starr doesn’t appear as a part of the top ten. Heisman trophies, other college awards and success with the team have helped to form this top ten list, comprising quarterbacks from many different eras of football.


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