Back before he was a superstar for the Philadelphia Eagles, even before he starred at the University of Oklahoma, Jalen Hurts was the starter for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Hurts signed with Nick Saban and the Tide as a four-star QB out of Channelview, Texas in the class of 2016.
He showed signs of superstardom almost immediately.
Hurts won the starting job for the then reigning national champions as a true freshman. He did not disappoint, either. Hurts threw for 2,780 yards, 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions to go along with 954 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns in his first season.
He led the Tide back to the College Football Playoff championship game where they narrowly lost to Deshaun Watson and the Clemson Tigers.
The following season, Hurts was once again the starter. He had similar success and led Alabama back to the national title game. But in that game, Hurts struggled in the first half against the Georgia Bulldogs. He was benched for the second half and Tua Tagovailoa, then a true freshman himself, led the Crimson Tide to victory.
The two split time the following season, but Tagovailoa received the bulk of the reps. Alabama returned to the national title game but lost in a blowout to Clemson.
Following the season, Hurts opted to transfer to complete his final year of eligibility. That’s where things got interested.
Nick Saban’s Transfer Decision May Have Saved Jalen Hurts’ Career
Saban sat down recently with Vic Carucci of the 33rd team for an interview alongside fellow coaching legend Bill Cowher.
Among the many topics discussed, the coaches talked about what makes Hurts such a great player.
During the segment, Saban revealed that when Hurts decided to transfer, he preferred two schools over than Oklahoma. But it was his soon-to-be former coach that pushed him toward the Sooners.
“When he wanted to transfer, I say ‘well who has the best players,’ ” Saban began. “He wanted to go to Maryland or Miami. I said ‘You need to go to Oklahoma. They got the best coach to develop you as a quarterback. And you’re gonna be around the best players, so that’s gonna enhance your chances of having success.”
Hurts, as Saban tells it, preferred the Miami Hurricanes or the Maryland Terrapins, where former Bama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley had just become the head coach.
But Saban guided him to Oklahoma and coach Lincoln Riley and the rest is history.
Hurts starred in Norman. He threw for 3,851 yards, 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also added 1,238 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground. Oklahoma reached the College Football Playoff before losing to Joe Burrow and LSU and Hurts finished as the Heisman Trophy runner-up to Burrow.
The rest, as they say, is history..