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Nick Saban: AJ McCarron is college's 'most underrated player'

Alabama coach Nick Saban described Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron as the college game's most underrated player in a live appearance on ESPN Saturday in advance of UA's home game against rival LSU. With two national championships as a starter on his resume, no quarterback in the nation has accomplished more. Yet the fifth-year senior is considered practically an afterthought in the Heisman Trophy race, in part because Alabama doesn't pass enough for McCarron to match other contenders statistically.

Saban addressed that very point.

"I think AJ's probably the most underrated player in college football," Saban said. "People talk about statistics all the time, and maybe his statistics are not what somebody else's are. But really what you should equate things with are production, performance, efficiency, consistency and winning. That's really what it's all about. He's done that better than I think anybody in college football."

A home win over LSU would put McCarron over a major hurdle in his pursuit of an unprecedented third consecutive BCS National Championship. The Tigers are one of only two teams to beat McCarron in his career, a 9-6 overtime victory in Tuscaloosa in 2011, his first year as a starter.

McCarron is one of four primary NFL draft prospects at the quarterback position in the SEC, along with Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, Georgia's Aaron Murray and LSU's Zach Mettenberger. All but Manziel are fifth-year seniors.

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