Jalen Hurts is officially the starting quarterback for Oklahoma. Now the Alabama transfer would love to face Alabama in the College Football Playoff.
NORMAN, Okla. – Jalen Hurts is Oklahoma’s starting quarterback, just as we all knew he would be. Sure, there was a competition. But now that the Sooners have made it official, let’s get to the next part:
Jalen wants ‘Bama.
He is not going to admit this, of course. When someone asks, he’ll probably deflect and instead answer some question he wishes had been asked. He’ll talk instead about “playing to a standard” and “trying to make those necessary steps to be the team that we want to be,” and it’s clearly a tactic he absorbed while immersed in Nick Saban’s “Process.”
But while we’re all fixated on how Hurts will fit into Lincoln Riley’s version of the Air Raid (or how Riley will fit the Air Raid to Hurts), he’s clearly focused on how he can prove people wrong. Yeah, that means showing significant improvement as a passer. It means doing it in an offense that requires more of a passer than the one he ran as Alabama’s starter.
But it also ultimately means getting back to the College Football Playoff. And if everything lines up perfectly, meeting and beating ‘Bama along the way.
“I’m sure in the back of Jalen’s mind, he would like to see the Oklahoma-Alabama matchup happen,” says Maryland coach Mike Locksley, who was Alabama’s offensive coordinator in 2018 – and who badly wanted Hurts to transfer to Maryland. “I think that came into play when he made the decision to go there.”
It’s a very tall order. The issues go beyond whether, with Hurts at the helm, Oklahoma’s offense continues to operate with the same (or at least similar) devastating efficiency as in recent years. The Sooners, you might have heard, have some defensive deficiencies to address, too. There are legitimate comparisons, but plenty of contrasts between Norman and Tuscaloosa. All of which makes Hurts’ decision to play his senior season in a different crimson jersey seriously fun and extremely fascinating.
What he’s done so far is amazing – and we’re not talking about his 26-2 record as a starter at Alabama, or the SEC offensive player of the year honors he received after his freshman season in 2016. Instead, it’s that he somehow remains a fan favorite at Alabama while becoming one at Oklahoma.
These days, quarterbacks transferring is just a part of college football. As Saban told USA TODAY Sports: “Not necessarily the best thing for Alabama, but it was definitely the best thing for Jalen to have the opportunity to do what he’s doing.”
Not many would begrudge quarterbacks going elsewhere for playing time. But fans don’t usually love the guys who left quite as much as they did before. Hurts appears to be the exception, and it makes sense considering how he handled himself in 2018 after losing his position to Tua Tagovailoa.
He couldn’t have been happy about it, but he didn’t publicly complain. Hurts got a standing ovation from Alabama fans when he played in his fifth game last season, which meant he would not be able to redshirt and have two seasons of eligibility to play elsewhere. And when he later bailed out ‘Bama in the SEC championship game after Tua was injured, he became an instant Crimson Tide legend.
All of which makes Hurts’ unstated goal for his senior season especially spellbinding. He probably won’t acknowledge the pursuit – but let’s all hope Jalen gets ‘Bama.