With A.J. McCarron firmly entrenched under center for this season and next (probably), it’s comes as little surprise that the man behind Alabama’s starting quarterback has decided to ply his football wares elsewhere.
Confirming speculation that’s been running hot and cold for a few months or so, the Tide announced Friday afternoon that Phillip Sims has decided to transfer from the football program. The release stated that Sims will move on following the completion of the spring academic semester.
“Phillip has been a great representative of our program and did a great job for us in his two years here,” said head coach Nick Saban in a statement. “We are sorry to see him leave, but we certainly understand the situation, and everyone here wishes him the best of luck.
“We’ve talked on numerous occasions about this decision and we just want Phillip to know that we will be here to support him in the future if there is anything we can do to help him and his family.”
With Sims’ impending departure, it appears McCarron caddie duties will fall squarely on the shoulders of redshirt freshman Phillip Ely.
Sims came to Tuscaloosa as a much-hyped four-star member of the Tide’s 2010 recruiting class, rated as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback by Rivals.com. After redshirting as a true freshman, Sims and McCarron waged a battle for the starting job that commenced in spring practice last year and technically continued into the very early portion of the 2011 regular season.
After McCarron officially took the reins of the offense, and then played a significant role in the Tide’s second BcS title in three years, however, the writing was very clearly and plainly written on the locker room wall for Sims or anyone else to see. Despite the obvious on-field reasons, Sims said in his statement that personal off-field issues and the need to be closer to home was the overriding factor in his decision to leave.
“This was a very difficult decision because I’ve had a great experience at the University of Alabama and I’m thankful for the opportunity this program provided me,” said Sims in his statement. “I want to thank Coach Saban and the coaching staff for being with me and my family at this time. I wouldn’t change anything about my decision to come to Alabama and this has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.
“The reason for me leaving is nothing more than a personal matter. I just need to be closer to home to support my family at this time and that needs to be my priority right now. I would still like to continue my football career, and hopefully I can do that and also be there for my family.”
In eight games last season, Sims completed 64.3 percent of his passes for 163 yards.
There is no word yet on where the Chesapeake, Va., native may land, although a pair of in-state ACC schools might be as good a place as any. In particular, the University of Virginia is thought to be a prime early contender to land Sims’ services.