• Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

Alabama QB Jalen Milroe overcomes doubters, getting ‘last laugh’


LOS ANGELES — Just days away from leading Alabama into the College Football Playoff semifinal against Michigan, starting quarterback Jalen Milroe said Thursday that former Tide offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien once told him he shouldn’t play quarterback.

“How would you feel if I told you [that] you suck?” Milroe said of what it was like to receive that remark from his former coordinator. “He told me a bunch of positions I could have switched to, but look where I’m at right now. Who gets the last laugh?”

O’Brien, who was the team’s offensive coordinator in the previous two seasons, was replaced by Tommy Rees this past offseason after O’Brien left to become offensive coordinator with the NFL’s New England Patriots.

Under Rees, once a college quarterback himself, Milroe has grown into one of the best quarterbacks in college football. After struggling at the beginning of the season and losing the starting job against South Florida, Milroe bounced back.

As he led the Tide to 10 straight wins, an SEC title and a CFP berth, he also found a groove as both a runner and a passer, throwing for 2,718 yards and 23 touchdowns while running for 468 yards and 12 more scores.

“When you look at me, you don’t think I play quarterback,” Milroe said. “You think I play [defensive back], linebacker, tight end. You don’t think I play quarterback.”

When it comes to throwing the ball, Milroe takes pride in bucking conventional wisdom about himself and showing how effective of a thrower, not just a runner, he can be. As his confidence has grown, Milroe has only been affirmed in his belief that he can play the position at a high level, even if people such as O’Brien have doubted his ability to do so.

“Growing up, I went to camp, they looked at me as a receiver or they saw me as not playing the quarterback position,” Milroe said. “I beat all odds by playing quarterback, and that is something that I try to do as much as possible.”

Milroe acknowledged the uniqueness of his journey to this position, but he said he never wavered on his belief and desire that he had to be an SEC quarterback after committing to Alabama. Now, with Rees, Milroe has found a kindred spirit in a fellow quarterback who went through his own share of ups and downs.

“This is the first time I had an OC that played the position,” Milroe said. “I think I’m very receptive of his coaching because he played the position, played at a high level at Notre Dame. And then now that he’s coaching, he’s able to coach the position and I’m able to absorb it as much as possible. So it’s been great.”

Said Rees of Milroe: “He’s an unbelievable kid. The way he is able to face adversity, the way he’s able to push through things.”

The rest of the Tide’s offense has also rallied around Milroe this season, touting his development as a leader as well.

“Honestly, from the first game to all the way to now, he’s looked like two different players, but it’s the same person,” wide receiver Isaiah Bond said. “Confidence is a big role on the football field. If you don’t have no trust, no confidence, you’re not going to even play to your full potential. So believe in yourself is the main key part, and he’s done that.”


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