AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter

Jalen Hurts is a Heisman Finalist, But His Legacy is So Much More

Back in January 2016, a young kid from Houston, Texas arrived in Tuscaloosa.

Jalen Hurts was a unanimous four-star prospect and rated as the No. 1 dual threat quarterback in the nation by 247Sports. During his time playing for head coach Averion Hurts, who is also Jalen's father, at Channelview High School, Hurts earned Texas District 21-6A MVP honors as both a junior and senior.

After 4,929 passing yards and 47 touchdown passes to go along with 2,342 rushing yards and 44 rushing touchdowns in his final two seasons of high school football, Hurts passed on Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Florida to join the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide.

Jalen Hurts' Alabama Legacy

After leading his team to the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game against Clemson, then doing it again the following year against the Georgia Bulldogs, Hurts laid the foundation for his iconic run with Alabama.

With a 26-2 record as a starting quarterback, including winning SEC Offensive Player of the Year as a freshman, he was benched in the second half of the 2018 CFP Title Game in favor of an unknown freshman named Tua Tagovailoa.

Well, I think you know what happened next.

RELATED: Heisman Trophy Finalists: Burrow, Fields, Hurts and Young

Despite being passed over for the starting job in favor of Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts remained with his team. Then, after Tagovailoa went down with an injury in the 2018 SEC Championship Game, Hurts' crowning moment arrived. He mounted a comeback with 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, including the game-winning 15-yard touchdown run to deliver the Crimson Tide the conference championship in a performance for the ages.

After completing his undergraduate degree and receiving a spectacular ovation from the University of Alabama, Hurts was free to move anywhere in the country as a graduate transfer and immediately play in his senior season.

Hurts could've left and abandoned his teammates with a personal vendetta to spite an Alabama football team that turned to sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa that next year. Yet, Jalen stayed, and his incredible legacy in Tuscaloosa is going to be hard to top.

The outpouring of support for this young man last year was tremendous, and it validated that values like integrity, loyalty, teamwork, and faith mean so much more than wins and losses.

Jalen Hurts Transfers to Oklahoma

When Hurts announced his decision finish his college football career in Norman with the University of Oklahoma Sooners, the buzz began. Could Hurts become the third-straight Heisman winner under Lincoln Riley, following Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray? Would Hurts be able to pick up OU's offense in time to keep the job? Does he even have what it takes?

Over 3,600 passing yards, more than 1,200 rushing yards, and 50 total touchdowns later, Jalen Hurts headed to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist. If it wasn't for a near-perfect season by LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, Hurts might even win the damn thing, too. Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields and defensive end Chase Young played lights out, but Hurts was something more.

The Heisman Trophy Trust defines the award winner as someone "whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. The winners of the trophy epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work."

Sound familiar?

Watching Jalen Hurts' story unfold over the last few seasons has been nothing short of awe-inspiring. Hurts isn't the most gifted thrower of the football, nor is he the most agile runner you'll ever see, but his football career is a testament to the leadership, toughness, and mental fortitude every athlete needs to become a champion.

Rare talents are hard to find. Exceptional people are even more rare. But Jalen Hurts? He's both, and that's someone who doesn't come around often.

Hurts might not win the Heisman Trophy. He may never touch another College Football Playoff National Championship trophy. He might not be a first round pick in the NFL Draft. But hell, people doubted him before, so who's to say Jalen Hurts can't do all that and more?

MORE: CFP Showdowns: LSU vs. Oklahoma; Ohio State vs. Clemson