Under Nick Saban at Alabama, Mac Jones had to wait his turn in line before earning the starting quarterback job.
Jones mainly stood on the sideline for two and a half years, watching Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa lead the Crimson Tide offense before finally getting his shot. Jones started four games in 2019 after Tagovailoa went down with an injury. In 2020, he took over as the full-time starter, tossing 41 TDs and 4,500 yards while completing 311 of 402 passes with just four INTs.
Hurts, now the Eagles' starting quarterback, believes Jones' experience sitting behind two players who would go on also to become NFL signal-callers has set up the New England Patriots QB well to succeed as a pro.
"Mac Jones, he had the opportunity -- I think the best way you can learn is to watch," Hurts told Rick Karle of WVTM 13 Birmingham. "Watch, take note of those around you, kind of learn the lay of the land, if you will, and learn that way. Mac had a very unique college career where he had to stay patient, and it worked out for him. And I'm happy it did. He was able to watch me, (and) Tua go through that, get him some burn here and there, and ultimately when it was his time, he took off with it. And now he has a great opportunity for his future."
Coaches often insist that young signal-callers learn best when they're able to step back and watch and soak up knowledge outside of the fire. Hurts, who started just four games as a rookie, knows first-hand how much can be gained by learning from the sideline.
Jones shined when he got his chance as a full-time starter, helping Alabama to victory in the College Football Playoff National Championship. The Patriots snapped him up with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The rookie will be entrenched in a battle with incumbent Cam Newton once training camp opens in late July after displaying undeniable growth throughout offseason workouts. Whether he wins the starting job right away or is a clipboard holder to open the year, Jones' college experience suggests he'll thrive whenever he is tossed into the pressure cooker.