Alabama quarterback battle: Will Bryce Young beat out Mac Jones, Taulia Tagovailoa in 2020?

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is off to the NFL Draft, leaving a huge hole in the Crimson Tide offense heading into next season. Though Tagovailoa struggled with injuries during his career, there was no denying his pro-level talent. He had it all: arm strength, ball placement, athleticism, leadership ... the whole package. Replacing him will not be easy. 

But this is Alabama, and coach Nick Saban's transition to a modern offense over the last several years has resulted in plenty of talent in the quarterback room in Tuscaloosa. So what does the Tide's depth chart look like heading into the offseason and beyond? Let's take a look at the candidates who could start in Week 1 against USC in Arlington. 

In the words of Tagovailoa himself, "If you love competition, now is the best time for it."

The class of each player listed below refers to their designation at the start of the 2020 season.

Mac Jones, redshirt junior: Ironically, Jones is the only non-blue chip quarterback who's in the competition for next season. Yet, following the Tide's 35-16 win over Michigan in the Citrus Bowl, he's likely the leading candidate to start in 2020. For one, he started in Tua's absence against Arkansas, Western Carolina and Auburn and the Wolverines. He's 3-1 in those games with a season total of 1,503 yards passing, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions. No, he's not as gifted as Tua (few are), but he's clearly a step up from most of the quarterbacks Alabama's had under Saban. He's proven he can move the offense and push the ball down the field. 

Taulia Tagovailoa, sophomore: Tua's little brother was a four-star member of Alabama's 2019 recruiting class. Though he has great bloodlines, he appeared in just five games as a freshman, throwing for 100 yards and a touchdown. In his Monday press conference, Tua indicated that Taulia would not transfer from the program, so expect him to make a strong push for his brother's job in the offseason. 

Bryce Young, incoming freshman: Here's where it gets interesting. The five-star member of Alabama's 2020 class signed and enrolled early, so he will be available to compete in the spring and preseason camp. The top quarterback prospect for the class has high upside and some experts believe he could legitimately win the starting job right away. "I think Bryce Young is a kid that is capable of coming in as a true freshman, early enrollee at Alabama and winning that starting job," 247Sports Director of Scouting Barton Simmons said during the 247Sports-CBS Sports Early Signing Period special in December. "If Bryce Young comes into that quarterback room with Taulia and Mac Jones, I just think he's better than those guys." 

Transfer quarterback: With a loaded quarterback room, it would be surprising if Saban elected to pursue a transfer quarterback to immediately compete for the starting job. For the sake of conversation, however, guys like former Wake Forest signal caller Jamie Newman are on the market. Though Newman has been linked to Oregon, he is available and would give almost any team an instant upgrade with his physical attributes and experience. 

So who will start in 2020? If I had to put money on it today, Jones is clearly the most accomplished. As such, I'd bet he takes the field against the Trojans. Historically, Saban has tended to go with the more experienced guy early on and Jones is no scrub. However, one thing Tua showed is that Saban has also been flexible enough to go with young talent if the ceiling is higher. As such, don't eliminate guys like Young from the conversation just yet. 

CBS Sports Writer

Ben Kercheval joined CBS Sports in 2016 and has been covering college football since 2010. Before CBS, Ben worked at Bleacher Report, UPROXX Sports and NBC Sports. As a long-suffering North Texas graduate,... Full Bio

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