Jalen Hurts was 26-2 as a starter at Alabama and helped lead the Tide to 3 consecutive National Championship Games. Naturally SDS asked me, a lifelong Alabama fan and co-host of The SDS Podcast, to compile a list of his best moments before he heads to Oklahoma. Get your popcorn and Kleenex ready. Here are my 5 favorite moments from No. 2.
Honorable mention: That time Hurts lost a bet to Charles Barkley and still trolled Auburn
Long story short, Hurts lost a bet to Charles Barkley after the Tigers beat the Tide in 2017. Jalen kept his word by wearing an Auburn jersey on campus in Tuscaloosa and videoed the event for social media. However, he also snuck in a subtle jab to little brother at the end of said video. As Jalen put on his backpack to head off to class, the CFP trophy appeared. It was “turribly” hilarious.
Jalen Hurts made good on his bet with Charles Barkley … but still managed to troll Auburn 😂 pic.twitter.com/u1XAR8aEFv
— ESPN (@espn) March 8, 2018
5. Alabama Media Day 2018: Don’t judge a book by its cover
“Entitled” was the word ,that was used to describe Jalen Hurts after he spoke in early August. And, as we later found out that term was thrown around about as casually, and as ignorantly, as a pass off your back foot over the middle on 3rd-and-long. If you don’t remember what was said, here is the quote …
“No one came up to me the whole spring, coaches included, no one asked me how I felt. No one asked me what was on my mind. … Now when we’re trying to handle the situation now, for me it’s kinda late. It’s too late. The narrative has already been created.”
Again, “entitled” was the word many fans, analysts and pundits from Alabama and all over the country used. The word they should have selected? Measured. Mature. Accurate. Jalen spoke eloquently and honestly about the situation that had unfolded in Tuscaloosa over the 7 months that followed 2nd-and-26, and it was impressive and refreshing to see one of Nick Saban’s autobots speak from the heart instead of the script. It also spoke volumes about his character which is why it made the list.
4. Missouri 2018: What can’t he do?
I was at this game, and though the outcome would have been in hand regardless of this play, it was still one of my favorite moments during Hurts’ career. With Bama up 10-3 late in the first quarter, Jalen entered the game to a massive ovation. At receiver. The armchair quarterbacks and keyboard coaching experts who implored Hurts to switch positions were momentarily appeased when Tua Tagovailoa hit Jalen on a 7-yard dig route.
Brilliant move by Saban, huh? Can’t have a QB controversy if they’re both on the field at the same time. In the moment I remember being entertained yet concerned at the potential of this offensive package after Jalen adamantly insisted he didn’t want to switch positions. Luckily for Saban, and Bama fans, he was selfless enough to go along with the game plan. He later went on to complete 7-of-8 passes and have a higher QBR than Tua.
3. Tennessee 2016: GIF Worthy > Blimp Worthy
It seems like decades ago since Alabama played a ranked Tennessee team. Let alone a UT team ranked in the Top 10. However, in 2016, the Tide had an epic rout over their current intern Butch Jones and the No. 9 Tennessee Vols. It was arguably one of Jalen Hurts’ best games in his 3-year career. The freshman silenced Rocky Top with 4 TDs and over 300 yards of total offense, but it was the GIF worthy moment that will live on forever. With 49 seconds left in the third quarter, and the Tide up 28-10, Hurts scampered into the checkerboard end zone for his 3rd rushing TD of the day. He then gave a look into the camera like, “Really? Y’all thought this was gonna be close?” It wasn’t, and it was amazing.
2. Mississippi State 2017: “I’m driving the bus …”
Bama fans will remember this game for two reasons: Jalen Hurts and Keith Holcombe. Thank God for the former. Late in the fourth quarter No. 1 Alabama had only led for 6 minutes, 38 seconds of game time. The offense sputtered repeatedly and the defense looked vulnerable several times. Then Jalen told the offense, “I’m driving the bus and the bus is pulling off. You can either get on or get off.”
He completed 4-of-4 passes on a game-winning drive, including a 26-yard TD to DeVonta Smith with 25 seconds left.
1. SECCG 2018: “I’m so proud of this guy”
Was it even in question? Sorry UGA fans. Cover your eyes. There are very few times that I’ve teared up over a football game, but this was one of them. And, I don’t care how that sounds because Saban cried, too.
“I’m so proud of this guy for what he’s done this year, I can’t even tell you.”
Nick Saban got emotional when speaking about the heroics of Jalen Hurts. pic.twitter.com/mmY4HfoFqD
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 2, 2018
In a made-for-Hollywood moment, Hurts came in for an injured Tagovailoa and led Alabama to a comeback victory in the same building, and against the same team, that he’d been benched against just 11 months prior. It was beautiful to watch (if you’re a Bama fan). Not just because of the victory, but because of the development as a passer and decision maker that we’d all hoped No. 2 would make for so long.
He made key check downs, he converted key third downs. He tied the game with his arm and won it with his legs. Oh, and he proved everyone wrong along the way.
I still maintain that Jalen Hurts will go down as one of the more under appreciated players to ever lace ’em up at Alabama. However, his character will make him go down as one of the most appreciated players, and role models, off the field as well.