Mac Jones' storybook rise is one for the record books
As the crimson and white confetti rained down from Hard Rock Stadium on Monday night, Mac Jones turned to his head coach with a smile.
“Can you believe this?” he told Nick Saban. “From a scout-team QB to a national championship.”
Jones’ storybook season concluded with a fitting ending as he completed 36 of 45 passes for 464 yards and five touchdowns during Alabama’s 52-24 victory over Ohio State in Monday’s national championship game. In doing so, he set national championship game records in passing yards and competitions.
Not bad for a former scout-team quarterback who began his career in the shadows behind Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa.
In fact, Jones surpassed that duo during his lone season as the starter for Alabama. Through 13 games, the Heisman Trophy finalist set the school’s single-season passing record with 4,500 yards through the air. His 41 passing touchdowns were just two away from tying Tagovailoa’s single-season mark set over 15 games in 2018.
Jones also took down a pair of national records as well. His 77.4 percent completion rate tops the previous NCCA single-season best of 76.7 percent set by Texas’ Colt McCoy in 2008. Meanwhile, Jones’ 203.06 passer efficiency rating passed the NCAA single-season record of 201.96 set by LSU’s Joe Burrow last year.
“In terms of legacy, I mean, I just think it's cool,” Jones said following Monday night’s championship win. “Just the class that we had coming in, the four teams that I played on throughout my career here, I just am so blessed to be on each team. Two national championships, one kind of watching from the sideline, one getting a chance to play. It just goes to show that anything is possible. When you put your mind to something, believe in your teammates and coaches, you can get things done.”
Once the forgotten member of Alabama’s quarterback room, Jones will now go down as one of the most celebrated Tide players in program history. Along with his single-season school records in passing yards, completion percentage and quarterback efficiency, the right-hander has also tossed five of Alabama’s 11 400-yard games.
All five of those came this season, typically in the Tide’s toughest games. Jones passed for 418 yards and five touchdowns with one interception during Alabama’s 52-46 victory over Florida in the SEC Championship Game. During a three-week span in October, he threw for 435 yards during a 52-24 win over then-No. 13 ranked Texas A&M before passing for 417 yards in back-to-back shootout wins against Ole Miss and then-No. 3 Georgia.
“I think Mac Jones had a phenomenal season,” Saban said Tuesday. “I mean, the completion percentage that he had, the accuracy, the command of the offense, the understanding of coverage and getting the ball to the right guys, consistency in performance, a guy that's played awesome. He's a very bright guy.”
After finally making his mark at the college level, Jones will now have the opportunity to join Hurts and Tagovailoa in the NFL. Following his record-breaking season, the redshirt junior has elevated himself into a possible first-round pick in this year’s draft. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay has Jones projected to land at No. 21 to the Indianapolis Colts in his latest mock draft, while The Athletic’s Dane Brugler has the Alabama quarterback penciled in at No. 24 to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
When asked about his future Monday night, Jones said he plans to talk with his family this week before coming to a decision on his draft status.
“I'm going to make the best decision for me and my family,” he said. “I'm blessed to put myself in a position to do either one, come back or hopefully go to the NFL. We'll discuss that this week and see what my plan is.”
Whatever Jones chooses to do, he’s already cemented his name into Crimson Tide history — something that seemed pretty unbelievable a few years ago.