Any person who’s ever played a sport knows that leaving the field that last time is painful. That emotion was on full display when Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts sat at a press conference following a 63-28 loss to the LSU Tigers in the College Football Playoff semifinal. Hurts wasn’t his best in that Peach Bowl, and his passion for the game resulted in a heartbreaking moment of realization.
“It hurts me the most because usually when you come up short in something, you can come back and you can fix it. I can’t come back and fix it,” Hurts said. “I’ll never play college football again.”
While that was true at the time for the once-prized high school recruit from Houston, Texas, Hurts is getting his chance to play college football once more alongside the country’s elite after accepting an invitation to play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
QB Jalen Hurts Accepts Senior Bowl Invite
“Everyone at the Reese’s Senior Bowl couldn’t be more excited to get Jalen Hurts back to the state of Alabama for his final college game. Jalen did some phenomenal things on the field for Alabama and he really endeared himself to Crimson Tide fans with how professionally he handled himself in every situation – both on and off the field.”
— Jim Nagy, executive director of the Reese’s Senior Bowl, via AL.com
Three seasons in Tuscaloosa produced one of the most beloved Alabama Crimson Tide football players ever. Hurts was named SEC Offensive Player of the Year as a true freshman and led Nick Saban’s team to the CFP National Championship Game back-to-back seasons. He was famously benched at halftime of the 2018 title game in favor of Tua Tagovailoa, which ended in a game-winning touchdown and national title for the University of Alabama. The next year, Hurts remained as a backup, came off the bench to lead the Crimson Tide to comeback win in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia, and graduated to a standing ovation.
In one season with head coach Lincoln Riley’s Oklahoma Sooners, Hurts erupted for 5,149 total yards and 52 total touchdowns. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist and finished second in the voting behind LSU’s Joe Burrow.
Reese’s Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy presented Hurts with a specially-made Riddell helmet — one side with Oklahoma’s logo and white facemask, and the other of his old Alabama No. 2 and gray facemask — for his final collegiate game.
A second helmet was signed and auctioned off with proceeds benefitting Special Spectators, which fetched a handsome price tag of $5,000.
Jalen Hurts’ Alabama-Oklahoma Helmet
However, there was some confusion about the special helmet Hurts was presented. While it was assumed he’d get to wear the helmet in the game, it’s more of a symbol of his commitment than an actual in-game farewell.
“He’s not going to wear it,” Blake Rockwell, director of Special Spectators, told AL.com’s Mark Heim during an appearance on WNSP-FM 105.5 radio. “I don’t know how that got out there, but he’s not going to wear it.”
Hurts may not be wearing his special helmet, but that hasn’t stopped the massive crowd of young fans coming to see his final college football game in Alabama.
Tickets for the Reese’s Senior Bowl game are listed between $10 and $30, and the All-Star game takes place Saturday, January 25. All-American selections like UCLA linebacker Cal Weaver, USC wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., and Utah running back Zach Moss join a host standouts who have accepted invites to the game before entering the NFL Draft.
Notable Senior Bowl Participants
Anthony Gordon, QB, Washington State
Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan
Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Vanderbilt
Lamical Perine, RB, Florida
Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State
K.J. Hill, WR, Ohio State
Collin Johnson, WR, Texas
Jauan Jennings, WR, Tennessee
Harrison Bryant, TE, Florida Atlantic
Jared Pinkney, TE, Vanderbilt
John Simpson, OG, Clemson
Jonah Jackson, OG, Ohio State
Prince Tega Wanogho, OT, Auburn
Trey Adams, OT, Washington
Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
Leki Fotu, DT, Utah
Jabari Zuniga, DE, Florida
Marlon Davidson, DE, Auburn
Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin
Anfernee Jennings, LB, Alabama
D.J. Wonnum, EDGE, South Carolina
Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama
Jonathan Greenard, EDGE, Florida
Jeff Gladney, DB, TCU
Kristian Fulton, DB, LSU
Alohi Gillman, SAF, Notre Dame
Rodrigo Blankenship, K, Georgia
Braden Mann, P, Texas A&M
This article was originally published January 7, 2020. It was updated after Hurts’ awesome helmet was unveiled.