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Alabama QB Jalen Milroe Enjoying Working With Offensive-Minded Head Coach

Kalen DeBoer brings a new, explosive offense to the Crimson Tide.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Jalen Milroe made a commitment to his parents before he ever agreed to play for the Crimson Tide that he would get a degree from the University of Alabama. That promise was something he leaned on throughout the coaching transition this offseason as Kalen DeBoer stepped in to replace Nick Saban. 

But it wasn't just his head coach that got replaced. DeBoer hired almost an entirely new staff and the original offensive coordinator he brought in, Ryan Grubb, left for a job with the Seattle Seahawks. So DeBoer promoted Nick Sheridan to quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. 

Milroe had to trust the process throughout all the coaching changes. 

"At the end of the day, we were going to have spring ball no matter who the coach was," Milroe said. "For me, I just tried to prepare mentally and physically along the way so that now that we’re here, I’m excited to have Coach Sheridan here.”

Now, just a few practices into spring camp, Alabama's returning captain and quarterback is already reaping some of the benefits of having an offensive-minded head coach. One thing DeBoer promised in his introductory press conference was an explosive, aggressive offense. 

And he's proven himself in those areas in his previous stops at Washington, Fresno State, Indiana and even dating back to his days at Sioux Falls. Last season with the Huskies, Washington had the second-rated passing attack in the country and a top-15 scoring offense. 

"As a quarterback, to have an offensive-minded coach and to be around him, it’s always great," Milroe said. "Coach DeBoer, along the journey that we’ve been on the last couple days, it’s been great to have him around the quarterbacks and learn and grow. The thing we can do as quarterbacks is be a sponge for information because at the end of the day, we’re trying to be the best we can be for the team. And so having Coach DeBoer here has been great, so I’m excited for what’s ahead.”

While Saban mostly spent his time at practice with the defense, specifically the defensive backs, DeBoer spends time watching over both sides of the ball, but working the closest with the offense. During the first media viewing period at practice, he was closely watching the quarterbacks alongside Sheridan. 

Milroe said he's really been working on developing his relationship with DeBoer and Sheridan right now in the early days of spring. He's trying to be a sponge for information around both as he learns their offensive system because his ultimate goal this season is to be the best quarterback in the country. 

"It’s going to help me down the road," Milroe said about the new system. "I believe it’s a great system. All of the guys on offense are happy about it. We’re trying to learn as much as possible, too. It’s different, but it’s going to allow us to be a really explosive offense this year, so we’re all excited.”

Last Friday after Alabama's third spring practice, Sheridan spoke to the media for the first time and said he is "very confident" in Milroe has a quarterback and feels really lucky to have the opportunity to coach him. 

"He’s an extremely talented kid," Sheridan said. "I think more than anything, he’s just a great person. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know him and his family. Obviously, everybody knows the talent, the explosiveness as a passer. Obviously, he’s very electric as a runner as well. But I’ve just enjoyed getting to know him as a person, what his history’s been, what his journey has been. Just his journey, what has gotten him to this point."

In his first season as the Alabama starter in 2023, Milroe threw for 2,834 with 21 touchdowns and added another 531 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground, resulting in a sixth-place Heisman finish. Milroe has been the quarterback running with the first team so far in spring. His role on the team as starting quarterback hasn't changed, but his responsibilities on the offense will definitely be changing under DeBoer's system. 

"There’s a lot of things that are asked of the quarterback, but it’s about leading the operation and being confident," Milroe said. "Whether it’s post-snap or pre-snap reads, it’s a lot of things we can do to be explosive as an offensive and be the best offense in the country. I’m excited because there’s a lot of things the offense can offer. All we want to do right now is master it so that we’ll be ready.”