INDIANAPOLIS — After nearly 9,500 passing yards and 80 touchdowns, it's time to put an end to asking Jalen Hurts to play any other position and acknowledge what he accomplished at both Oklahoma and Alabama.
His effect on two programs was monumental, but somehow, his presence and impact have already been forgotten when mentioning his career.
Throughout the pre-draft process, Hurts has been bombarded with questions concerning his future; receiving position switch questions, he reiterated that he would change positions if asked by an NFL team and he’s a "team-first guy, but I'm a quarterback."
Quarterback is the only position he's ever known, and there's no denying that Hurts has the foundation to become an NFL worthy thrower; completely dismissing him and acting as if he doesn't have the talent to possibly become one is completely misguided.
Like many other signal-callers entering the league, Hurts has his warts that will need to be corrected in order for him to even entertain the idea of him being atop a team’s depth chart. His consistency as a passer will be something he must improve on, but during his time at Oklahoma, he began to show some of the steps needed. Under the tutelage of head coach Lincoln Riley, he vowed to help unlock Hurts and add layers to him as a passer.
During his time at Alabama, Hurts compiled 5,626 passing yards, 48 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions. While with the Crimson Tide, he was able to complete 62.9 percent of his passes while also collecting 1,976 rushing yards and 23 rushing touchdowns. Making the transition to Oklahoma was no easy task as he weighed his options on whether to declare for the draft or transfer elsewhere. After weighing his options, he found a comfortable landing spot with the Sooners.
Why did Hurts make this decision to transfer to Oklahoma rather than return to Alabama or declare for the draft? The answer was simple: he felt as if his college career was unfulfilled and he had more business to handle. Even after going 26-2 while at Alabama, he wanted to end his career on a higher note than the sour taste that was left in his mouth after being replaced in favor of Tua Tagovailoa prior to the 2018 season.
When talking about the transition to Norman, Oklahoma, Hurts reiterated that “everything about it is unique.”
“But to me, I know it’s happening to a unique person,” he said Tuesday at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. “I’m not your average Joe. I’m kind of built for these kind of situations.”
Being built differently is something you will hear Hurts constantly say nowadays and he proved to be just that during his time in Oklahoma. Even though he was the SEC Offensive Player of the Year during his freshman season in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, he was once again entering a new situation. But this one was a bit different. The culture, conference and the way it operated was vastly different from Nick Saban’s program. Hurts wasn't shy in saying that it was a bit of an adjustment for him and one that took a bit getting used to.
At the conclusion of his career with the Sooners, he finished with career-highs in passing yards (3,851) and throwing touchdowns (32). His objective of showing off his passing prowess should be considered a success and he was able to show off much more in Riley's wide-open Air Raid system.
Talking to the former Sooners star, I wanted to know how he was able to make strides as a passer. He mentioned that every year he “kind of leveled up.”
“It was about taking steps every year,” Hurts added. “Taking coaching from all of these different coaches and being able to use that as an asset."
Playing under six different offensive-minded coaches during his career, he talked about how he's "been a part of so many offensive minds.”
“They all have been very pivotal in my development as a quarterback,” he noted. “I hold that in high regard."
Another area I asked Hurts about was his poise. He showed it in the 2018 SEC title game where he erased a 14-point deficit against Georgia when relieving Tagovailoa following an ankle injury. He also showed his calmness after a 25-point comeback victory over Baylor last season.
When addressing his unique ability on how he remains even keel, Hurts said: "For me, I have values that never change. Regardless of whatever the situation is or whatever's going on, those things will never change. I try to never get too high or low and just keep the main thing, the main thing, and keep it rolling. It comes down to winning ball games and I just try to go out there and do that."