Sophomore Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts was benched after halftime in Monday Night’s College Football National Title Game.
ATLANTA — Freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa took his place and sparked a legendary comeback that includes a walk-off TD pass in overtime. With the mantle most likely passed, where does Hurts go from here?
How We Got Here
After transfer quarterback, Hurts led Alabama to another title in 2015; there was time for another new quarterback in the Alabama dynasty. After a fierce competition with Blake Barnett, Hurts was named the starter during the 2nd game of the 2016 season. He was the first true freshman to start for Alabama at that position in 32 years. On a deeper level, Hurts was only the sixth black quarterback to start in Alabama history. With the odds and pressure on him, Hurts did what he had to do.
He was named SEC Offensive Player of the Year, SEC Freshman of the Year, and received Freshman All-American from several publications during the 2016 season. But unfortunately, he came up short in the National Title Game as Alabama’s offense spurred towards the end of the game. During the 2017 season, Hurts was consistent and found ways to win. But here’s when things get tricky.
Coming from Hawaii, Marcus Mariota’s legacy was unmatched coming into college. Tagovailoa went to the same high school as Mariota and many expected Tagovailoa to go to Oregon. After a few recruiting failures by schools, Tagovailoa went to Alabama with much buzz. As a true freshman, he played in a lot of “garbage” time situations. Despite the lack of pressure, Tagovailoa gained a lot of fanfare.
Fast forward to the National Title game. Hurts had led Alabama to the playoff again, despite not winning the SEC title game or even their division. He has gotten his redemption against Clemson and now 60 minutes with Georgia will determine his legacy. He only played 30 minutes. Three completions and 21 yards later, he was benched. Tagovailoa took over the game and the rest is now history.
GAME. WINNER. DOT. GIF.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) January 9, 2018
After leading his team to two straight title games but being benched in his 2nd title game, what are Hurts’ options?
Hurts has two options: stay at Alabama or transfer. If he stays at Alabama, he most likely will not regain his starting job. Tagovailoa displayed the future of Alabama’s offense. Explosive plays within the air by a mobile quarterback. Most would say that Hurts did the same, which he did but Hurts true potential wasn’t fully used. Alabama is still run heavy and that will always take away some pass opportunities each game. Even if Hurts regains his Job, the pressure would be unreal. His best option is transferring. Here’s why.
Firstly, Nick Saban has had a few since starting his dynasty. Actually, he’s had a lot of everything since starting his dominance. He loads his team with powerful recruits and makes them sit and really prepares them for his system. A.J . McCarron sat through the 2009 National Championship season an later went on to win the 2011 and 2012 titles. Blake Sims waited in the wings until he was named the starter in 2014. The same goes for Jake Coker, as he lost the quarterback competition against Sims the previous season.
What makes this situation different compared to the last few quarterback situations is that Hurts is young. He didn’t have to wait years to play as an upperclassman; he played early. Due to this, when the transition period starts and has started for Alabama’s quarterback job, Hurts still has time left. Due to this, Hurts must make a decision quickly. Personally, I think his best option is to transfer. He has two years left and if he transfers, he will be an automatic starter for sure. Here are his potential options.
- UCLA: Chip Kelly could use a good mobile quarterback as he starts his reign at UCLA.
- Michigan: Michigan needs a quarterback that can spread out the defense in order to aid their run game. Plus, UM needs points to really make a national splash.
- Texas A&M: Jimbo Fisher could use an experienced quarterback as he resets the Texas A&M offense.
- Tennessee: Former Alabama Defensive Coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is the new Coach at Tennessee. Although it’s not his side of the ball, the Alabama ties could be attractive to Hurts.
- Nebraska: Scott Frost needs a spark to help Nebraska win their division in the Big Ten and reach heights higher than their current state.
- Florida Atlantic: For most fans, this would be the most fun option. Lane Kiffin is a former Alabama staffer and is a true character within the College Football world. If Hurts go to FAU, Kiffin could lead FAU to a Group of Five bowl next season.
No matter what happens. Hurts went 26-2 as a starter and did what he had to do. He’s a class act and has a bright future ahead of him.
Young athletes – watch Jalen Hurts interview and learn how to be a great teammate and handle a tough situation of getting benched with class. I have mad respect for that dude right now.
— Paul Zeise (@PaulZeise) January 9, 2018