3 things to know about AJ McCarron, Alabama's quarterback

Kevin C. Cox

So you've decided to take a look at AJ McCarron, Alabama's star quarterback. Here are three things you'll need to know.

1. He has two rings as a starter and might get a third.

In 2011, AJ McCarron vaulted himself into college football immortality by becoming the first sophomore quarterback to lead his team to a BCS National Championship.  Last season the Crimson Tide repeated the feat, throttling Notre Dame en route to a second-straight crystal football with McCarron at the helm. And guess what: Alabama has the inside track to go back to the title game yet again, with what Roll Bama Roll says might be Alabama's best team ever.

2. He's not just a "game manager."

McCarron's strengths lie in controlling the offense and smart play, and that usually points to the label of "game manager"—which is often a euphemism for "noodle-armed mediocre QB on an otherwise talented team." McCarron's legit, though: he shredded LSU's vaunted secondary in the 2011 title game, and he led the nation in passer efficiency last season. He's not some Ken Dorsey clone; McCarron can make basically any throw on the field and can win games with his arm.

3. He's a survivor—just like Starla Chapman.

In Week 1, College GameDay profiled AJ McCarron's story as a five-year-old patient at South Alabama Children's and Women's Hospital after a freak head injury in a waterskiing accident. He was touring that same hospital on Christmas Eve in 2011 when he struck a friendship with young Starla Chapman and her family. Chapman is a leukemia survivor.

You can see her wristband on McCarron's wrist on Saturdays now, and you'll probably see it on Sundays, too. It's a wonderful, heartwarming story in a sport that's more full of them than you'd think.

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