Alabama likely will go into Saturday’s season-opener against USC without a definitive starter named at quarterback. Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban announced Monday that the team’s quarterback competition has been narrowed to two players – junior Cooper Bateman and redshirt freshman Blake Barnett.
Bateman, the most experienced quarterback on the roster, was the team’s backup last season behind Jake Coker and even started against Ole Miss in September before Coker outright won the job. That game was the Crimson Tide’s only loss of its national championship season.
True freshman Jalen Hurts and sophomore David Cornwell also had been competing for the job.
On the team’s official depth chart released Monday, though, Hurts still was listed at first-string quarterback along with Bateman and Barnett, and Saban seemed to hint that he may still play at some point this season.
Cornwell was limited by a foot injury during fall camp, which appeared to at least partially eliminate him from the starting competition.
“We're going to try to continue to develop all of our guys,” Saban said, “and we make this choice with what's going to give us the best chance to win this game but it's also about future development of our players. And we're going to play the guy that's the most ready to give us the best chance, but we also want to continue to develop guys that can compete at this position in the future.
"That's kind of where it is right now. There's really nothing else to talk about."
In April, Saban said Bateman was the front-runner to start at the position if the season began then.
Alabama has had quarterback competitions in each of the past two seasons. In 2014 and '15, Blake Sims and Coker won the starting jobs, respectively, in battles that carried over into the early portion of the season. The Crimson Tide went on to reach the College Football Playoff in both years, including the championship win last season.
John Parker Wilson, Greg McElroy and A.J. McCarron are the other quarterbacks who started under Saban at Alabama.
The top-ranked Crimson Tide opens its season against Trojans on Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
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