TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The ability to lead has never escaped AJ McCarron on the football field. He has always understood that having the ball in his hands on every play meant something. It meant he had to lead.
"It's part of the position, so I'm used to it," McCarron said Saturday after the first spring practice. "I've been playing the position since I was 4, so there's not much different to it."
The front yard, the high school football field, Bryant-Denny Stadium -- they're all the same to the rising senior. McCarron has played in Cowboys Stadium, the Superdome in New Orleans and knocked helmets in Florida's Sun Life Stadium, home to his boyhood favorite Miami Hurricanes. At each stop, the strong-armed and full-throated signal-caller has been successful. He already has won two national championships as a starter, and he finished last season as the country's top quarterback in terms of passing efficiency. A run at the Heisman Trophy in 2013 isn't out of the question, considering all the talent he'll have at receiver.
But talk of awards is premature. For now, he has one job to focus on, and that's taking ownership of a team made younger this spring by the departures of nine scholarship seniors and three underclassmen. When asked about his individual goals for the offseason he rebuffed the idea -- he doesn't believe in them.
"I'm here to win," he said. "I want to win as a team."
McCarron has never shied away from his leadership position with the Crimson Tide, but this year will be different. This time around, he's being asked to do even more.
"I have to try to get the best out of everybody around, not just my position with the younger guys and trying to bring them along the way, but as a whole offense all the way around and even the defensive players," McCarron said. "It's my job to be more of a team leader this year rather than last year as just the offensive leader."
Said coach Nick Saban: "AJ's leadership is critical to our team. AJ has the capabilities of being a good leader and he has to assert himself as that and impact and affect other people by the example he sets."
To read the rest of Alex Scarborough's story, click here.