It’s the moment that we as fans of college football and those in Norman, Oklahoma have been waiting for, the beginning of the Jalen Hurts era. In recent memory, few have had a debut as celebrated as Jalen’s. This accolade is well deserved. For those who have lived under a rock, Jalen Hurts was 26-2 as the starting quarterback for the Alabama Crimson Tide. His efforts guided the Tide to 2 straight national championship game appearances before being benched in favor of Heisman finalist Tua Tagovailoa. However, that would not be the last that fans in Tuscaloosa would see of Jalen. Trailing the Georgia Bulldogs 28-14 in the 2018 SEC Championship game, he would come in for an ailing Tagovailoa and guide the Crimson Tide to an improbable 35-28 come-from-behind victory made for the movie screen. After graduating in December, he announced his departure to Oklahoma, leaving Tuscaloosa a legend.
Oklahoma is in a unique position. Not many have the luxury of replacing not one but two back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners with a quarterback who is 26-2 as a starter and that is transferring in from the most elite football program in recent years. Once more, it is unheard for a player the caliber of Jalen to sit an entire year after losing his job as “the guy”. “You never get a guy that does those things, not lose that many games and end up transferring. Then you get to go to another top-tier school, and you’re in a situation where you end up replacing two Heisman winners. You can’t look back in history and say that’s happened before,” Hurts said. Having his experience and expertise, on paper, will undoubtedly cause many oddsmakers to project the Sooners to reach the College Football Playoffs. Some are already predicting they will face Alabama; which would probably produce the greatest TV ratings in recent memory.
Some may question how well Jalen is adjusting to his new home and if he has been received well in Norman. To find the answer, one need only look to videos of Jalen and his new squad on social media. One of the more notable videos is of Hurts squatting over 600lbs which sent the room into a frenzy. However, the best assessments have come vocally from his teammates. “People just listen to him when he speaks. When he’s talking, you can tell everybody’s locked in because whatever he’s going to say, it’s going to be good,” said defensive back Tre Norwood. He’s also received a glowing endorsement from CeeDee Lamb, who will more than likely be his “go-to” wide receiver and is assured a future spot on an NFL roster. “The guy, he’s a warrior. Because there’s nothing that can bring him down,” Lamb said. Does this come as a surprise? Hardly. Alabama fans can attest this. He’s an incredible leader, who is humble, but also has a commanding presence. Plus, having endured the trials he faced while at Alabama have spoken volumes about his character. How could that not capture the loyalty from his Sooner teammates? “He’s an example for people all over the country in terms of a guy persevering. He won inspirational player on his team (Alabama) voted on by teammates. He didn’t win that when he was going 26-2 as a starter. He won it when he was the backup and working every day to affect people in a positive way,” Nick Saban on Jalen as a leader. One last approval came from Sooner defensive back Parnell Motley, “You would’ve thought he’d already been here, the way he came in and set the standard, what the standard is supposed to be…if you want to be a great team. He came in ready to lead this team and ready to pick up where he left off.”
Jalen Hurts’ teammates are ready for this era to begin. So are we. Anyone who says differently doesn’t love college football. His presence could guide Oklahoma to a stage that has eluded them the past 2 seasons, a national championship. Will it happen? Only time will tell. However, we are ready to take the journey with him. Our first glimpse will come tonight on FOX Sports at 8:30 p.m. ET as the Sooners play their annual Spring Game. I’ll be tuned in.
I am a 2003 graduate from the University of Alabama with a degree in Exercise Science. While at the Capstone, I served as a student assistant with the head strength and conditioning coach of the Crimson Tide football team. I have competed in both powerlifting and bodybuilding for several years. In addition, I have served athletes and people through the arena of personal training. Jesus is my Lord and Savior. I am a passionate fan of Alabama, but do not make other fan bases miserable because of it. College football has my heart first, but I cover all areas of sports. Follow me on Twitter: @justinriley7!