It's possible that Mobile (Ala.) Saint Paul quarterback AJ McCarron could end up being one of the most sought after signal callers in the Class of 2009. The 6-foot-4, 180-pounder turned a lot of heads during a sterling sophomore season and has caught the attention of several major programs already.
McCarron threw for 1,974 yards and 25 touchdowns last season and had only four interceptions.
"I don't get real rattled in a game," he said. "My park (youth) league coaches always helped me stay calm. My coach is always preaching to stay through adversity. I never get rattled in a game and when we make big plays, I want the ball in my hands."
He credits St. Paul offensive coordinator Tyler Siskey with helping his development.
"He's helped me a bunch in terms of reading defenses," McCarron said. "He teaches me to read Cover-2 and Cover-4 and stuff like that, where the holes are. Being on the college level (Siskey coached at Arkansas State), he knows what to do. His playcalling also helps. He knows I like to throw the deep out and the slant and knows I like to throw the deep ball a lot."
McCarron already has started to give college programs a look. He talked about what he'll be looking for when he goes to make his decision.
"The year that the school is having will be important," he said. "If a school is on the downfall or if a school is back up to it's potential to win a National Championship. I will also be looking at the class they have coming in the year before I come in and seeing if they brought in a big-time quarterback or not."
The coaches and scheme at the school will be important, too.
"The offensive coordinator is important, too," McCarron said. "I've gotten along real well with Coach Major Applewhite (Alabama) and Jimbo Fisher (Florida State) so far. They get real close with their quarterbacks and help them a lot.
"I've also got to go somewhere where they throw the ball a lot."
The in-state Crimson Tide have made an impression early.
"I always rooted for Alabama, but I was mainly a Miami fan growing up," McCarron said. "I always loved Miami. My uncle and cousins live down there and I'd go down every spring break and they'd take me around the campus and show it to me.
"But my family is huge Alabama fans. My dad showing me tapes of all the games he went to and watched during the national championship years. There is so much tradition in that school. Tradition alone gets them a lot of athletes."
McCarron recently attended the Alabama Junior Day.
"I had a blast," he said. "I rode around with Coach Applewhite and (Tide quarterback) John Parker Wilson. I watched film with them for an hour and 15 minutes. I like the offense he has. He said they are going to open in up a lot."
McCarron got to know Fisher when the Noles offensive coordinator was at LSU.
"I have always been real close with Coach Fisher since last year," McCarron said. "We went to a 7 on 7 at LSU last summer and I got real close to him then and he was talking to me about coming to LSU. When he moved to Florida State, he kept in touch with me and told me how they are going to throw the ball around a lot more now that he is there."
A former Ole Miss quarterback that played under Tennessee offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe when he was the head coach of the Rebels, has helped the Vols become an early player with McCarron.
"I really like Tennessee," he said. "I know coach Cutcliffe and he's a real good offensive coordinator. (Mobile product) David Morris backed up Eli Manning and he's been telling me about how coach Cutcliffe is and how his offense is. Last year, (Cutcliffe) turned their offense around with Erik Ainge. Ainge didn't make as many bad decisions this past year."
The thought of playing for Steve Spurrier also excites McCarron.
"I like South Carolina because of Coach Spurrier," he said. He likes to throw the ball and I remember following him during all of his years at Florida with Rex Grossman and all the quarterbacks that he had at Florida. I like his offense a lot."
Auburn, LSU and Miami also are programs that could end up in the mix for McCarron.