The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

March 15, 2014

Alabama, Kiffin start Phase 1 of QB search

— TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama began its quest to find a new starting quarterback with five candidates on campus and a big-name position coach in Lane Kiffin.

The Crimson Tide opened spring practice Saturday on an idyllic, sunny afternoon in what likely amounts to Phase 1 of the search for AJ McCarron's successor as the offensive leader. Alabama, winner of three of the last five national titles, hopes it also starts the team on a path toward redemption after losing its final two games.

Florida State transfer quarterback Jake Coker won't arrive until this summer after graduating but is already the presumed front-runner for the starting job.

"I think all of you know that the quarterback competition this spring is going to be something that a lot of people are going to get a lot of opportunity at," Saban told reporters. "Jacob is not going to be here in the spring, but he's certainly going to get an opportunity when he gets here as well.

"That's going to be the goal to develop each of our quarterbacks and see which one we feel give would have the best opportunity to be successful next year."

The five spring contenders include freshman David Cornwell, who underwent knee surgery during his senior season in high school, and last year's backup Blake Sims.

Saban said the mobile Sims is still working on becoming a more consistent passer. Kiffin, a former Tennessee and Southern California head coach, replaced Doug Nussmeier as the Tide's new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

He's working with those two QBs plus Alec Morris, Cooper Bateman and Parker McLeod this spring.

"I think he came in and made the offense more simple and player friendly," receiver Amari Cooper said. "The way plays are called, it's easy to recognize what you have to do as a player."

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