Prominence to Stardom
Jalen Hurts is no stranger to the national stage. The rookie quarterback has always been accustomed to receiving the country’s attention.
In 2016, Hurts was ranked as the #4 overall dual-threat quarterback coming out of high school.
In his senior season, he passed for 2,384 yards with 26 touchdown passes and rushed for 1,391 yards and 25 touchdowns. But even with racking up 51 total touchdowns and over 3,700 all-purpose yards, Hurts was not universally acknowledged as the best player at his position.
He was ranked behind names such as Shane Buechele and Jarrett Guarantino, who have both had some success at SMU and Tennessee, respectively, but nothing like the success that Jalen Hurts would find at Alabama. There, he was able to carry over the momentum from his senior season and apply it to his freshman season at Bama.
Hurts’ freshman season propelled him to the forefront of spectator conversation.
His record-breaking season was unlike any other. He threw for 2,780 yards and 23 touchdowns with nine interceptions. His completion percentage was at 62.8 percent, and he finished the season with a quarterback rating of 139.12. He rushed for a total of 954 yards and 13 touchdowns, breaking the school single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback.
He won SEC Offensive Player of the Year and SEC Freshman of the Year, was a finalist for the Manning Award, which is given to the nation’s top quarterback, and ultimately led the Crimson Tide to a national championship.
But while things were looking up, the situation gradually started falling apart for the young quarterback.
Publicists and media members started questioning whether or not Hurts had the qualities necessary to be a championship-winning quarterback. They harshly criticized his ability to pass the ball downfield and often regarded him as incapable of doing so.
His pocket presence was noted as lackluster, and some even said that he was “a running back trying to play quarterback.” These stereotypes proved consistent with Hurts’ playing time at Alabama.
In one of the more memorable moments in recent college football history, Tua Tagovailoa replaced Hurts in the second half of the 2018 National Championship game and led Alabama to a come from behind victory on the last play of the game to defeat the Georgia Bulldogs.
In the days following the game, there was a common consensus that Jalen Hurts starting another game for Alabama was unlikely.
Similar to high school, Hurts would be written off as second-rate. In his junior year, Hurts would sparingly see the field as he sat behind Tua. You can’t really blame Nick Saban for the decision because Tua would go on to break many records and contend for the Heisman Trophy. But it still felt like Hurts was blackballed.
The media attempted to give Hurts a pity party by praising him for being an exceptional teammate to Tua. And quite frankly, it made me sick. Hurts led Alabama to two consecutive national championships, and it was like people forgot about him.
The media’s hypocrisy to turn their backs on someone who they revered nearly months earlier was disheartening. And as a result of Hurts’ junior year woes, he decided to enter the transfer portal and attend the University of Oklahoma.
Road to Redemption
In his first game as a Sooner, Hurts had an explosive, record-shattering performance in which he recorded 508 yards of total offense against the Houston Cougars. His success did not stop with his first performance, either.
☑️ 332 passing YDs
☑️ 176 rushing YDs
☑️ 6 TDs
☑️ Record for most YDs in debut (508)
Jalen Hurts had an incredible Oklahoma debut.
The former Alabama QB dominated in the Sooners’ 49-31 win over Houston on Sunday. https://t.co/ffn2yjBdJO
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) September 2, 2019
Hurts would end the season with 3,851 passing yards and 32 passing touchdowns to go alongside 1,298 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns. With that, he led the Sooners to the CFB Playoff Semifinals, where they would eventually lose 63-28 to the LSU Tigers, who went on to win the championship later that year.
But once again, despite his incredible season, Hurts finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Joe Burrow.
Do you see the recurring theme here? No matter how impressive Hurts seems to be, he is never recognized as the best. He is putting up numbers that most players could never dream of doing, yet was still being slighted.
This would continue in the 2020 NFL Draft where he was the fifth quarterback to be selected. It was almost like Jalen Hurts and doubt were synonymous with one another. Why are people so hesitant to give Hurts the credit he rightfully deserves?
That brings us to the present-day. The NFC East division in 2020 is regarded as one of the worst divisions in NFL history.
You would think Carson Wentz, who was the second overall pick for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2016, could easily lead the Eagles to a division crown. Why? Because of just how bad the other NFC East teams are. And yet, he has proven us blatantly wrong.
Simply put, Wentz was pathetic and outright terrible in the first three-quarters of the season. Wentz had a career-low completion percentage of 57.4 while throwing 15 interceptions and being sacked 50 times.
I hate to be critical, but I feel like Vince Wilfork could have put up better numbers.
We waited to see what the Eagles would do about the starting quarterback situation. Starting Jalen Hurts seemed to be the only plausible solution. Coach Doug Pederson was so resistant to the idea of starting Hurts, but FINALLY, in Week 13 of the regular season, the fans finally got their wish.
It did not disappoint. Hurts put on a spectacular showcase against the New Orleans Saints, who, coming into Sunday’s game, had the best defense in the NFL. Hurts recorded 167 yards passing and 106 yards rushing.
Jalen Hurts leads the Eagles in an upset win over the Saints, 24-21 🔥
273 total yards
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 14, 2020
The Eagles looked like they had new life. Unlike the weeks preceding, they looked as if they wanted to be there. And as for Carson Wentz, the truth hurts (pun intended). Jalen is better than you. And it’s not by a little… It’s by a lot.
It was supremely evident following Sunday’s game that Jalen Hurts is something special. I hope people will begin putting some respect on his name because it is long overdue.
just a sports casual who happens to write about the NBA and college football. Primarily based in Atlanta, GA. UGA undergrad.