Alabama football has a roster stuffed to the gills with five-star talent, but one of its most important players this year—quarterback Mac Jones — was something of an afterthought for many fans of the team when he committed. As a Twitter conversation from years ago shows, the Jacksonville native had really fight his way into the conversation as a major recruiting target.
Jones was something of a late riser as a recruit, eventually hitting four-star status, and getting invited to the Elite 11. After flipping from Kentucky, he joined a 2017 Alabama class that featured running back Najee Harris, the No. 2 player in the country, as well as five-star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Rather than transfer, like so many quarterbacks do, Jones waited it out as both Jalen Hurts and Tagovailoa had their times in the spotlight. When Alabama football inked five-star Bryce Young, the top quarterback in the 2020 class, it didn’t seem like a sure thing that Jones would even start this year, after a solid showing stepping in for Tua last fall when he went out with his hip injury. Jones quickly proved that he was the guy though.
Last night, as the clock was winding down on Alabama vs. Clemson, Rivals’ Woody Womack shared a screenshot between Jones and one of his colleagues, from March 2015. Jones was looking for someone to build a Rivals profile out for him, and said that Wommack wasn’t following him yet. It sounds like that was the start of the process of getting Jones more on the radar for teams, beyond those who he camped with at the time.
Everybody starts somewhere.
— Woody Wommack (@RivalsWoody) January 12, 2021
Jones would finish third for the Heisman this year, behind teammate DeVonta Smith and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. He went from largely off the NFL radar to likely first-round pick status with his season, a real testament to sticking it out (though it doesn’t hurt to be surrounded by Alabama talent.)
Playing through a clear injury last night, Jones had a prolific game, throwing for 464 yards and five touchdowns. Smith carried the team in the first half, with 215 yards and three touchdowns, but even with the Heisman winner out for almost all of the second half after suffering a hand injury, Jones barely missed a beat.
Mac Jones seems like a truly affable player, who embraced the “game manager” label this year, as he torched defense after defense. He finished with an even 4,500 yards, completing 77.4-percent of his throws, with 41 touchdowns and four interceptions. Not bad for a game manager.