In a surprising turn of events, Jalen Hurts is heading to Oklahoma for his final year of eligibility. Many prophesized the former starter at Alabama, who subsequently lost his starting job to then-freshman standout and sophomore Heisman runner-up Tua Tagovailoa, to attend the likes of Maryland, Miami or TCU.
Now, throw those odds in the nearest trash bin. Since the news of Kyler Murray’s intention to further his football career and place his baseball aspirations on hold and backup Austin Kendall’s forced blocking of a transfer to West Virginia from OU, this news comes as a complete shock to the college football stratosphere.
Hurts, the 6-2, 218-lb dual-threat dynamo and backup to Tagovailoa in the 2018-19 season, significantly improved in the passing aspect in his game from now Miami Offensive Coordinator Dan Enos. Now, he’s looking to enter an entirely new echelon of scoring in the Big 12, as he is looking to become the Sooners’ trusted man under center. Now, the possibility is there for Oklahoma Head Coach Lincoln Riley to have his third Heisman contender leading one of the most-prolific offensive systems in all of the country.
A Player’s Tribune article written by Hurts, released just a mere 20 minutes ago and titled “To My Alabama Family”, cited his departure from the Tuscaloosa campus as sentimental, adding how much his now former head coach Nick Saban impacted his decision to attend Alabama and continue their winning tradition, as well as how bittersweet both his efforts in the two National Championships that he started in were.
“Was what happened in the 2018 National Championship Game bittersweet? Of course, it was — it was a humbling experience. It was tough, man.”
He went on to explain, “But I am even tougher for it. I am built for this. I understand that God put those obstacles and challenges in my life for a reason. He wanted me to feel the pain I felt for a reason. He wanted me to understand the importance of never losing faith — and of always staying true to myself. He had NOT brought me this far just to leave me there. “This isn’t something you’re stuck in,” I’d tell myself. “This is something you’re going through.” And one thing I can promise you is that I’m better off for having gone through it. Everything I dealt with at Bama: I’m stronger for it. I’m wiser. I’m a better man.
The letter’s main body was indeed sentimental, but it was the ending that would grab readers everywhere. Just to defy all prognosticators’ expectations of where he should continue his waning eligibility, the current Alumnus of Alabama made the decision to attend The University of Oklahoma in his final paragraph.
“So to my about-to-be family in Norman, I truly appreciate you for bringing me on board. Y’all don’t know me yet……… but just for now, to introduce myself: I’m a motivated coach’s son from the Eastside of Houston, and I love to play ball.
And to my Bama family, once again, THANK YOU — for everything. It’s been a great three years. I’ll love you until the end of time! John 13:7, ROLL TIDE.”
Hurts obtained his degree in December, allowing him to play immediately next season as a graduate transfer. He will have one year of eligibility remaining after playing three seasons under Saban’s Crimson Tide. The Houston native posted a 26-2 record as the two-year starter for Alabama, and in his sophomore year, threw for 17 touchdowns with only one pick as he led Bama to the championship game. As fate would have it, he was benched before the beginning of the second half for the then-favored Tagovailoa who helped to win the 2018 National Championship.
After Saban’s late victory against Georgia in the national title game, speculation arose of Hurts’ departure since it was expected that Tagovailoa would run the offense from then on. He ended up backing up the sophomore in his Heisman-nomination season, regularly coming in during the 4th quarter in blowouts after Tua’s damage was done.
The quarterback finished his Alabama career with a total of 48 passing touchdowns and 23 rushing touchdowns who remained an ideal teammate and good friend of the soon-to-be projected first-round pick Tagovailoa, offering him advice and guidance in finishing a season off on the right foot. Little to his belief, he got his opportunity to redeem himself against Georgia with a late comeback victory in December’s 2018 SEC Championship, subbing in for Tua who had to be carted off due to an ankle injury.
Considering that, not only has Lincoln Riley garnered national attention towards his former transfers, and back-to-back superstars Baker Mayfield (2017 Heisman winner and first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft to the Cleveland Browns) and Kyler Murray (2018 Heisman winner and presumptuous first-round talent in the 2019 NFL Draft), Hurts will be the guy on an offense that will have a load of upside next year.
While Hurts is certainly not the over-efficient passer that Mayfield and Murray were, Hurts is still a gamechanger who can put up some pretty big numbers in 2019. With this transfer, the Sooners move one step closer to not only becoming College Football Playoff attendees for the fourth time in five years but National Championship contenders.