After entering the NCAA Transfer Portal, speculation where former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts would end up was everywhere. Rumors swirled that he could land with the Miami Hurricanes or Maryland Terrapins, where former Alabama offensive coordinators Dan Enos and Mike Locksley were waiting. As it turns out, the Houston, Texas native had other plans in mind.
In a heartfelt letter published to The Players’ Tribune, the Alabama football hero announced that he will transfer to play for head coach Lincoln Riley and the Oklahoma Sooners for his final college football season.
In the wake of back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners — Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray — Hurts joins the Sooners’ high-octane offense as a graduate transfer for his final season, but not without a lot of great memories left behind.
“I’ve decided to take my talents to the University of Oklahoma, where I will continue my development as both a quarterback and as a student.
“I’m very fortunate to have this opportunity, and I’m excited for the journey ahead.”
— Jalen Hurts, via The Players’ Tribune
As Alabama’s starting quarterback, Hurts racked up a 26-2 record and led the Alabama Crimson Tide to back-to-back College Football Playoff national championship games in his first two seasons before famously being replaced by Tua Tagovailoa in the 2017 title game. Then, he replaced Tagovailoa to beat Georgia and win the SEC Championship this past December in an incredible redemption story.
In his announcement letter, Hurts thanked the Alabama program, head coach Nick Saban, and the Tuscaloosa family he built in the years he spent with them.
“Commitment. Discipline. Effort. Toughness. Pride.
“Those are the five commandments of Alabama football. Those are the five commandments that have been instilled in me, and that have defined me, for the past three years. And as I write this letter, I find myself drawing on those commandments one more time.
“It’s been almost four years, now, since the day I got the phone call that changed my life. A coach by the name of Nick Saban was on the line, wanting to ask about the chances of a Texas boy like me packing up for Tuscaloosa, and coming to play football at the University of Alabama.
“I took my recruiting visit — and then never took another. It was just love at first sight between me and this program.
“And it’s crazy to think about the journeys we’ve both been on since then.”
— Jalen Hurts, via The Players Tribune
The full letter is worth the read, but maybe the most important is how Hurts closed that letter. The final words he writes are “John 13:7,” which is a Bible verse that reads: “Jesus replied: ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.'”
For a young man with enough ambition and experience to fill two quarterback rooms, the sky is the limit. Quarterback Austin Kendall is trying to transfer from the Sooners program, so Hurts’ main competition for OU’s starting job will be No. 1-overall quarterback recruit Spencer Rattler. With Lincoln Riley’s offensive mind leading the charge in Norman, Hurts can potentially put up massive numbers in the Big 12 Conference next season as a grad transfer.
Those years in Tuscaloosa will forever cement his legacy, and Hurts might have said it best: “Now it’s also time for me to start a new chapter in my story.”