The new redshirt rule of college football says that any player may compete in four or fewer games and still retain their status without losing a year of eligibility should they decide to either redshirt or transfer out of the program. What’s being dubbed as college football’s version of free agency, players around the country are already using it to their personal benefit.
The thought in Tuscaloosa coming into the season was that if sophomore Tua Tagovailoa would win the starting job at quarterback, junior Jalen Hurts would leave. After five games, and five appearances, Hurts isn’t going anywhere, and his coaches and teammates couldn’t be happier.
Following No. 1 Alabama’s 56-14 win over Louisiana-Lafayette, head coach Nick Saban addressed his backup quarterback’s decision to remain with the program for the reminder of Alabama’s season.
“I know there has been a lot of talk around here about guys transferring and the transfer rule, but Jalen has obviously handled this extremely well, relative to being a great team player and leader, respecting his teammates and sticking with the program here,” Saban said.
Hurts finished the fifth game of his season 4-for-6 for 118 passing yards and a touchdown as the Crimson Tide continued their run of dominance on both sides of the ball.
“He played very well today and took advantage of when he does have an opportunity to play,” Saban added. “He plays well and tries to create value for himself, which I think would be the message that I would send to all players out there who are trying to take advantage of this new rule.”
“It shows that he’s a professional. He’s about his business. He has a plan on what he wants to do, and that’s what he always tells us and he’s sticking to it. He never complains, he comes to work and does what he has to do to get better.” — Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III
Hurts was replaced during the national championship game against Georgia, downgraded for not being as productive a passer as Tagovailoa, and criticized for not being happy with the handling of the quarterback competition. Still, he kept working, remained a leader in the locker room, and has positioned for the best possible scenario for his team and himself.
At Clemson, senior quarterback Kelly Bryant was supplanted by highly-touted freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence and decided to transfer using the new rule. When Lawrence went down with an injury last weekend against Syracuse, the No. 4 Clemson Tigers almost fell victim to Bryant’s decision but managed to escape with a win behind their third-string quarterback.
Bryant may be college football’s biggest free agent, but leaving his team hang out to dry is a terrible look.
Personal gain is necessary, but depth is even more important to a college football team when nothing is certain.
Jalen Hurts is proving that there’s more to college football than gaudy numbers and personal accomplishments. The kid is all about his team, and the family he’s built with the Alabama Crimson Tide.