About this series
During the summer, The Times sports staff will catch up with former local standouts as they prepare for the upcoming college football season.
When Blake Sims committed to play football at the University of Alabama, he was praised for his athletic ability. It was said that Sims could fit into the Crimson Tide’s system in multiple ways, becoming a true difference maker for coach Nick Saban.
Fast forward three years and things haven’t quite panned out for the former Gainesville High quarterback. He has swapped positions multiple times and has yet to see stable playing time for the Crimson Tide, who became the first team to win back-to-back BCS national championships with a 42-14 rout of Notre Dame in January.
“Your life doesn’t always go as you want,” Sims said. “Your life is in God’s hands, and however God wants it to go is how it goes.”
Sims, the former four-star prospect who led the Red Elephants to the Class AAA state championship game in 2009 after accounting for 49 all-purpose touchdowns, hopes that all changes this season, though.
A rising redshirt junior this season, Sims is entering fall camp with the hopes of competing for more playing time and hopefully proving to the coaching staff that he can be the next starting quarterback for the Crimson Tide, a position that will be open for battle once All-American A.J. McCarron graduates.
“Right now, everybody is just battling for a spot,” Sims said. “I’m going to compete as hard as I can and show Coach Saban and the rest of the coaches that I can be the next starting quarterback at the University of Alabama.”
After being redshirted in 2010, Sims was a running back for the Crimson Tide in 2011. He moved back to quarterback in 2012. In total, he has 77 yards passing, 294 yards rushing and just two total touchdowns in his two seasons playing with the Tide.
“I think the first thing right now is to get on the field regularly,” Gainesville head coach Bruce Miller said, of Sims.
“That is the first thing I think he would like to accomplish, and then make a difference on Alabama football.”
With an athletic ability higher than most quarterbacks, Sims knows the Alabama coaches might ask him to do different things this season, in order to help the team win.
“I want to become a better player than I was yesterday,” Sims said. “If you are a true athlete, you can do anything that is possible.”
Doing a little bit of everything isn’t new to Sims. In high school, along with playing quarterback, he was also the team’s top kick returner.
“I’m surprised they haven’t put him deep on kickoffs,” Miller said. “He was a tremendous athlete. His ability to run the ball and to throw the ball, he was so fast for a quarterback. We put him back deep on punts and kickoffs.”
Since arriving on campus, Sims has been a member of two national championship teams and he has played in some of the most viewed games on television, including Alabama’s 32-28 win over Georgia in last year’s Southeastern Conference championship game in Atlanta.
“Georgia is a good place and I really wanted to go there, so to play them was really big,” Sims said. “I have a lot of friends that are Georgia fans and I am very competitive. I want an upper-hand on everyone.”
The success that Alabama has experienced in recent years is largely credited to the mantra of Saban, who is known for his intense and demanding, must-win personality.
It is because of Saban that the Crimson Tide don’t look too far ahead and remain a national powerhouse each season, despite losing superstar players to the NFL, according to Sims.
“We take it one game at a time. We let last year be last year,” Sims said. “We try to write new history for the upcoming year. The big part of it is coach Saban keeping us on point. We like things that happen to us in the past be memories.”
For now, Sims is spending time in Gainesville, training his younger brother, Hunter, who is an upcoming freshman quarterback at Rabun County High. He will return to Tuscaloosa on Tuesday to begin working out with his Crimson Tide teammates.