Alex ScarboroughESPN Staff WriterClose
- Covers the SEC.
- Joined ESPN in 2012.
- Graduate of Auburn University.
Hurts, a junior, has one year of eligibility remaining. Since he graduated in December, he could transfer and be able to play immediately.
Entering the transfer portal is a necessary step to make him available for contact by other college football programs. While sources indicate Hurts is expected to leave Alabama, entering the portal doesn’t lock him into doing so.
Hurts, a former SEC Offensive Player of the Year as a freshman, was 26-2 with two championship game appearances in his two seasons as the starter. This season, sophomore Tua Tagovailoa beat him out for the starting job and ultimately finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray.
Still, Hurts was used often this season, appearing in all but two games, which he missed while recovering from a high-ankle sprain. All told, Hurts completed 51 of 70 passes for 765 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions as the backup. He also rushed for 167 yards and two touchdowns.
During his two seasons as the starter, Hurts threw for a combined 4,861 yards, 40 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, to go along with 1,809 yards and 21 touchdowns rushing.
Hurts is expected to have several suitors on the transfer market.
The 6-foot-2 Houston native was silent when it came to his future throughout the postseason. Before the Capital One Orange Bowl against Oklahoma, he called the media’s speculation about his future unfounded and insisted that he’d never said anything about transferring.
“I’ve been counted out,” Hurts said. “I was supposed to do this, I was supposed to do that. Even last year after the [championship] game, I was supposed to be gone. This year, I was supposed to redshirt and do all those things. But I’m here. I’m here for this team, and that’s what is most important to me.”
It’s a good thing for Alabama that he was. When Tagovailoa injured his ankle and was forced to leave the SEC championship game with the Crimson Tide trailing Georgia by a touchdown in the fourth quarter, Hurts came off the bench to throw the game-tying touchdown and run in the game-winning TD in Alabama’s 35-28 victory.
Alabama coach Nick Saban lauded Hurts’ resiliency after his performance against the Bulldogs.
“I’ve probably never been more proud of a player than Jalen,” Saban said. “It’s unprecedented to have a guy that won as many games as he won — I think 26 or something, over a two-year period, start as a freshman, only lose a couple games this whole time that he was a starter — and then all of a sudden, he’s not the quarterback.
“How do you manage that? How do you handle that? You’ve got to have a tremendous amount of character and class to put team first, knowing your situation is not what it used to be. And for a guy that’s a great competitor, that takes a lot. It’s not easy to do.”