Not to hijack the thread, but I believe that AJ goes pro at the end of the year, and he gets drafted fairly high. He's like Trent was last year, he really has nothing to gain by staying for his SR year, especially if he goes out as a 2 time NCG winner. We're never going to be a throw first offense, so he won't really improve his overrall statistics, he'll already have won everything he's going to win with 2 NC's and possibly a heisman finalists spot, and he risks having his career ended prematurely by injury. So he really has no reason to come back unless he just really wants to finish his degree. The best part for him is a lot of the top quarterbacks have fallen out of contention for a first round pick. Barkley has been mediocre at best, Geno Smith has fallen off the radar over the past few weeks, and Collin Klein is Tim Tebow with lower muscle content, so he hasn't moved up the draft board. I kind of view AJ in the same light as Ryan Tannehill was last year. Tannehill went from relative unknown to top 10 draft pick, and AJ, while not as athletic as Tannehill, is probably a better pure qb than RT, and I think that NFL teams are starting to notice.
Now to answer the original question. There is no way that Saban starts a true freshman quarterback, I know the adage of "if you're good enough, than you are old enough", but I don't think there is a true frosh qb out there who could pick up Saban's system without being an overwhelmed. Plus, freshmen make freshmen mistakes, and I don't think Saban would put a freshmen that he's not used to in charge of one of the most disciplined offenses in the country. I would imagine that Ely would be the full time starter, but I think we would see Blake Sims take a more active roll in the wildcat. If you've watched the end of the games this year, It does kind of look like Saban is trying to groom them for a double role already.
My opinion and nothing more, TIFWIW
Not so sure AJ goes, how about his brother who transfered to Bama to be able to play with AJ.
I'm sure we'll be fine offensively. We'll just go back to the old run, run, throw offense and rely on defense, if the guys behind AJ aren't ready yet.
However, I do think AJ has room to grow, and possibly a 1st round spot next year. However, he can still prove that this year. If he hits his shots and looks good vs LSU, the SECCG, and BCSNCG....there's still a lot of season left. But if we hide him in those games, or we don't hide him (as we really haven't this season) and he struggles he could hurt himself. Hopefully he excels.
If he comes back, he could show that he could lead a young offensive line to a great offense. The "experts" have said that if he comes back a year, he could push for 1st round status. But like I said, there's a lot of season left and a lot of showcase games.
My guess would be Ely as well..In the limited times he's played..I thought he looked dang good passing the ball..Like others though..I hope AJ stays his senior year..Especially if he wins his 3rd NC ring..It would be awesome if he came back to win his 4th one..
Did the bag man tell Sheridan AJ was staying?
I do not have an opinion on who the quarterback should be next year if he leaves. Nick Saban knows a lot more about football than I do. He attends every practice and has meetings with each of them. I trust his judgement on who it should be. I would like to see the backups get some significant snaps against Western Carolina and the Barn once the games become blowouts.