Alabama quarterback McElroy's mission well mapped out

Alabama quarterback McElroy's mission well mapped out

Credit: Photo By: Josh Harvey / WFAA.com Sports

Photo By: Josh Harvey / WFAA.com Sports

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by BRAD TOWNSEND / The Dallas Morning News

wfaa.com

Posted on December 18, 2009 at 3:01 PM

SOUTHLAKE – Greg McElroy's homecomings used to lack fanfare. But that was before he quarterbacked Alabama to the BSC national title game.

Last Friday, the Southlake Carroll product returned to a conquering-hero's welcome. And crazy circumstances. Many of those congratulating McElroy wore burnt orange.

This is, after all, Texas, and Alabama's Jan. 7 national title game opponents are the Texas Longhorns.

"This game obviously hits closer to home," McElroy said. "My approach will be exactly the same, but with it being the game that it is, on the stage it's set on, it obviously has a different feeling – especially because of our opponent."

Sitting in his family's living room, in jeans, T-shirt and bare feet, McElroy smiled while recounting his sometimes-frenetic home visit that ends today, when he is scheduled to return to Tuscaloosa.

On Saturday afternoon, the Crimson Tide (13-0) will begin formal preparations to play Texas (13-0). And get this: When the teams clash in Pasadena's Rose Bowl, McElroy will be about 30 miles east of his birthplace, Northridge, Calif.

He lived in the Los Angeles area until he was 10, when his family moved to Southlake.

"That's what's so neat about it," McElroy said. "Born in California. Grew up in Texas. Went to Alabama, and now we're playing Texas in California for the national championship.

"I don't think you could write that in a storybook as well as it's been written."

When national college football fans last saw McElroy, on Dec. 5, he threw for 239 yards on just 12 completions as No. 2 Alabama dismantled No. 1 Florida, 32-13, in the Southeastern Conference title game in Atlanta.

McElroy, a 6-3, 220-pound junior, was named the game's Most Valuable Player. When the Tide returned to Tuscaloosa, the town was awash in celebration of Alabama's 22nd SEC championship.

"The funny thing is, I've been thinking more about the Florida game than the Texas game, I think out of reflection," McElroy said. "That was such a big, emotional game for us.

"Luckily, we didn't have to play a game the next week because so much time and preparation and focus went into beating Florida."

McElroy has become accustomed to students and other fans staring when he walks into Alabama restaurants. But his mother, Jami, was unprepared for the flashes that illuminated the Southlake Town Square restaurant the McElroys visited this week.

"What's going on?" she wondered.

"I think they're taking pictures, Mom," Greg answered.

He also caused a stir at Sunday's Cowboys-Chargers game at Cowboys Stadium. His father, Greg Sr., is the Cowboys' senior vice president of sales and marketing. During a brief trip to the field, Greg Jr. was serenaded with shouts of "Roll Tide!"

"It's been interesting, to say the least," Jami said.

The McElroys chose to watch last Saturday's Heisman Trophy ceremony at home. Tide running back Mark Ingram's victory triggered a flurry of text messages between Greg and teammates.

During Wednesday evening's visit from a News reporter and photographer, the McElroys' home and cell phones rang almost nonstop. Greg Jr. seemed to enjoy posing outside with the family's unique Christmas decoration – an Alabama quarterback silhouette, lit in crimson, naturally.

"It's been nice to have this little layaway," McElroy said. "But I'm sure Texas will come to mind here in the next couple of days."

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