One day, Greg McElroy hopes, he can point to the player wearing No. 12 and starting at quarterback for the University of Alabama and feel overcome with pride. McElroy always loved Joe Namath - he admired him since the day he made the guarantee before Super Bowl III. Namath, of course, wore No. 12 for Alabama.

So does McElroy's son, also named Greg. He wears it for his dad.

"It would make my day if you wore Joe Namath's number," the elder McElroy told his son after he committed to Alabama. "It would be a cool thing."

McElroy honored his father's request and switched from No. 17, his high school number, to No. 12. The elder McElroy might get his chance to see No. 12 at quarterback for Alabama from his spot in the stands, feel that sense of pride. This would be better than Namath. This would be his son, now battling for the starting job this spring with redshirt freshman Star Jackson.

The younger McElroy reached this point in the most un-Namath of ways. He's no "Broadway Joe." But his entire life equipped him to handle the pressures of being Alabama's starting quarterback.

Young Greg's father is the senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Dallas Cowboys and always has been involved with sports in his career, enabling Greg to grow up in locker rooms.

"He's been exposed to so much," the elder McElroy said. "He's always taken an interest in the strategy portion of the game. Besides being a bright guy to begin with, he has such a passion for football. He's always kind of been a coach-in-waiting, so to speak. He's fascinated with the different strategies."

Scrutiny? McElroy went to Southlake Carroll High School in suburban Dallas, one of the most revered football programs in the country and the perfect training ground for a quarterback preparing for Alabama.

Despite playing behind future Missouri star Chase Daniel, McElroy didn't switch high schools for more playing time. He waited three years and then led Southlake Carroll to its third state title in four years. He committed to Alabama knowing he would wait three more years to play because of John Parker Wilson, who became his best friend.

"I wanted to learn first," McElroy said. "I still had the opportunity to compete for a position. It just wasn't the starting position. Observing work habits and learning and studying are some of the positives that came out of it. You see plenty of guys in the NFL hold a clipboard for a year and be more ready to play."

McElroy compares his style to Wilson and admits he relies on his intelligence more than physical ability. Due to Wilson's remarkable durability, however, McElroy still lacks playing time. He's thrown only 20 passes.

"Greg's been in the offense the same amount of time as John Parker. He just didn't play in the games," coach Nick Saban said. "I think his knowledge and understanding is good. Game experience is what he lacks."

McElroy says he appreciates the tutelage from Wilson. And now he's doing the same with Jackson. Yes, they are in a competition for one of the most high-profile positions in the SEC. But one day, McElroy says, he'll be sitting in the Bryant-Denny Stadium stands. And he'll want to feel the same sense of pride as his father.

"I'm teaching Star everything I can," McElroy said. "Everything I learned from John Parker, I'm passing on. Long after I'm gone, he'll still be a quarterback and I want Alabama to have success. I'll be a fan once I hang up the cleats. I feel like I'm an ambassador for the school."

No, there's no guarantees or Broadway-type bravado. And that makes his father most proud.

"That means more to me than anything he's ever accomplished on the football field," the elder McElroy said. "I couldn't be more proud of the type of man he's become."