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Wednesday, August 21, 2013
The SEC's best 25 players: No. 4

By Chris Low

Yep, another quarterback has cracked the top 5 in our countdown, and his ring collection is getting mighty impressive.

No. 4: AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama, Sr.

2012 summary: McCarron led the country with a 175.28 passer efficiency rating and set an Alabama school record with 30 touchdown passes. He completed 67.2 percent of his passes and threw just three interceptions. His 2,933 passing yards were the second most ever in a single season by an Alabama quarterback. McCarron was a third-team All-America selection by the Associated Press and earned second-team All-SEC honors from the coaches and AP.

Most recent ranking: No. 9 in the 2012 postseason countdown

Making the case for McCarron: If quarterbacks are truly judged by how many championship rings they win, McCarron has a chance this season to join a class all by himself. He'll be gunning for his third straight national championship, and while it's true that he's been surrounded by great players, McCarron has made one clutch play after another to help keep the Crimson Tide's incredible run keep going. He's been at his best on the biggest stages. Go back to his Offensive MVP performance in the 2011 BCS National Championship Game or his four touchdown passes in the BCS National Championship Game last season. And if not for McCarron engineering the game-winning drive in the final minutes at LSU last season, Alabama would have been sitting at home during the national championship festivities a year ago. McCarron is everything you want in a quarterback. He played through tremendous pain last season after dislocating his ribs against Mississippi State and is one of those leaders who's not afraid to get in anybody's face. He's super productive, as his 30 touchdown passes a year ago would attest, but he's equally accurate and doesn't make bad decisions. He's thrown just eight career interceptions and went 291 pass attempts between interceptions during parts of the 2011 and 2012 seasons, which is the second-longest streak in SEC history. The Crimson Tide will lean on McCarron even more this season, and he's proven that he can handle anything they want to give him.

The rundown