This is a key pickup for Bama's 2011 recruiting class. The Tide had previously struck out with QB prospects Cody Kessler (USC) and Bubba Starling (Nebraska), among others, in this recruiting cycle. With Star Jackson's transfer, Alabama would have only had two scholarship QBs on the roster for the 2011 season following Greg McElroy's graduation. The ideal situation is 4 scholarship QBs. 3 is manageable, but 2 is absolutely untenable. If Phillip Ely follows through on his commitment, Alabama will now have 3 quarterbacks on scholarship next season. Big sigh of relief here.
And Ely is no place holder. He had offers from major BCS programs like LSU, Clemson, and Ole Miss to name a few, and was drawing strong interest from Notre Dame. He comes from the powerhouse Plant program in Tampa, FL, where he follows in the footsteps of elite high school QBs like Aaron Murray and the nomadic Robert Marve. He was also a participant in this year's Elite 11 camp, making this the 4th straight year the Tide has pulled in an Elite 11 QB (Jackson, AJ McCarron, Phillip Sims, Ely).
Ely strikes me as a bit of a McElroy clone, in that he doesn't have great size or a big arm but he's very accurate, has good mechanics, and, with a 19-0 career record, seems to have the same "winning gene" as GMAC. Which is to say, he looks like a great match for Alabama's offensive system.