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NCAA Football Alabama Crimson TideSEC Football

Alabama’s A.J. McCarron Will Win Davey O’Brien Award, Not Johnny Manziel

The watch list for the Davey O’Brien Award was released this morning, with the SEC placing seven quarterbacks on the list for the award given annually to the nation’s top collegiate quarterback. This year’s group includes the starting quarterback of the past two national champions, the reigning Heisman trophy winner and the soon-to-be all-time passing leader in the conference.

In alphabetical order. here are the SEC quarterbacks on the O’Brien Award watch list:

James Franklin, Missouri
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
AJ McCarron, Alabama
Aaron Murray, Georgia
Tyler Russell, Mississippi State
Connor Shaw, South Carolina
Bo Wallace, Ole Miss

The top three of McCarron, Murray and Manziel have a resume strong enough to suggest they should be the favorite to represent the conference, if not the nation for the honors this season, but my pick to win is McCarron.

Has there ever been a quarterback to win back-to-back national titles and still be as underrated as McCarron seems to be on a national level? He has been incorrectly labeled as a game-manager and a caretaker for Nick Saban’s teams predicated on a strong running game, but I’d take him over any other quarterback in America.

He threw for numbers that I don’t even think the best NCAA ’14 aficionados could replicate in the video game, throwing 30 touchdowns to only three interceptions. For his career, he has only thrown eight balls to the other team. To highlight how ridiculously impressive that number is, consider that Manziel threw nine in his Heisman season alone.

He isn’t going to have flashy runs like Manziel or have his name in the tabloids like his SEC west counterpart, but what McCarron has is “it”. He is as clutch as any player in the country.

When Alabama trailed LSU last season with their national title aspirations slipping away in Tiger Stadium, McCarron showed that he has ice water coursing through his veins and put on a passing clinic, going 10-of-16 passing with 123 yards. He picked up 2-of-3 third downs and the game-winning touchdown with 51 seconds left.

On the final offensive drive, McCarron completed 4-of-5 passes (after going 1-of-7 prior), showing the world his unflappability.

He is the leader of the top-ranked team in the country and the odds-on favorite to win a third straight title, which is unprecedented in the BCS era. The better question isn’t whether or not McCarron is the favorite to win the O’Brien, but rather where he ranks among the all-time greats in the history of college football.

In a few months, he can put together a resume that has him firmly among the five best college quarterbacks to ever put on a helmet.

Patrick’s a college football writer for Rant Sports and radio host on Sportstownchicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt and add him to your Google network.