TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — AJ McCarron has helped Alabama reach several prime destinations, from New Orleans to Miami and Southern California.
Now the third-ranked Crimson Tide’s quarterback, known for national titles and winning 12 times for every loss, will get to see New York for the first time.
“I’m a huge Yankees fan, and I said I would never go to New York unless I was invited for the Heisman or for draft day,” McCarron said. “So one of those dreams came true. It’s just a cool moment to be a part of.”
The NFL draft remains months away, but McCarron is one of six Heisman Trophy finalists invited to Saturday night’s ceremony.
McCarron will be joined by fellow quarterbacks Jameis Winston of Florida State, Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M and Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois. Auburn tailback Tre Mason and Boston College tailback Andre Williams are also finalists.
McCarron is the one candidate largely judged by a career that stands as perhaps the best among Alabama quarterbacks, a group that includes Joe Namath, Bart Starr, and Ken Stabler.
McCarron is 36-3 with two national titles as a starter and three in his five years on campus. He holds Alabama’s career marks for passing touchdowns and yards and total offense.
“I don’t think I need to state my own case,” McCarron said. “I think if you look at my play over three years, I feel like no quarterback in the SEC or the country has played as consistent as I have. I think the numbers do the talking. When you look at my stats against top 10-ranked teams, I don’t think anybody’s stats compare to mine. I just let my stats and play do the talking and sit by the side. I guess.”
As a senior, McCarron has thrown for 2,676 yards with 26 touchdowns against five interceptions, while completing a career-best 67.6 percent of his passes. He won the Johnny Unitas Award as the nation’s top senior quarterback.
McCarron and the Tide fell short of another title shot with a 34-28 loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl on Chris Davis’ 109-yard, last-play return of a missed field goal. He’ll finish his career in the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma instead of a return trip to Pasadena, Calif.
McCarron isn’t fretting over the way the regular season ended.
“I know this state and the South itself is a little crazy about football, but I feel like I keep it in a good perspective. It’s a game,” he said. “When it’s over and done with, I know what I left out on the field and I feel like I played one of my hardest games. We just fell short. Nothing you can do. You’ve got to move on and live life and be happy, because life’s way too short to sit back and think about what you should have done and be mad about it.”
He’s at least New York bound, along with his parents, girlfriend Katherine Webb, younger brother and teammate Corey and an uncle and cousin.
Pretty much the usual crew that are there to greet him after every game, win or, less often, lose. McCarron said he’d have someday gone to New York otherwise, but only when he could foot his own bill.
McCarron said he just smiled when he found out he was invited to the Heisman ceremony. Parents Dee Dee Bonner and Tony McCarron were more emotional.
“They were pretty ecstatic,” McCarron said. “Mom and Dad were both crying. Just happy. It’s a dream come true for them. That’s the best part for me, that’s the most fulfilling part is watching my little brother and everybody live their dreams through me. That’s what I like most. I could care less about myself.”
He hasn’t spent much time watching football since the regular season finale. McCarron said he saw much of the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship game between Missouri and Auburn, before heading to the mall with Webb for Christmas shopping.
He said the only time he has seen Winston, the Heisman front-runner, play was when Corey McCarron’s Spanish Fort team beat Hueytown in the 2010 state quarterfinals.
“I hate watching football, to be honest with you, unless I’m getting ready to play, watching film on somebody,” McCarron said. “All it does is it really ticks you off and makes you want to go get better, really.”