Jalen Hurts, a study in contrast

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, October 3, 2018

With :53 seconds remaining in the first quarter of the Alabama vs University of Louisiana Lafayette game last Saturday, I watched from the sideline as Jalen Hurts trotted to the center of the field to take his spot in the huddle.

The Alabama stands erupted in cheers and applause for Hurts.

In sharp contrast to what happed at Clemson, South Carolina, Hurts accepted his role as a back-up and gladly helped his team win a football game.  Talking heads and media analysts had been saying all summer that Jalen Hurts “will transfer from Alabama” after playing the allowed four games.

Email newsletter signup

That is exactly what Kelly Bryant did at Clemson.

Bryant quit on his team. Last Thursday, Bryant announced that losing the starting job at Clemson was “a slap on the face”, and that he would be transferring elsewhere.

He would take his ball to the railroad depot,  and catch the transfer train out of town.

Not Jalen Hurts. Of course, Jalen just might transfer at some time.  He certainly has that right. Jalen will graduate in December, but, until then, he will continue in the back-up role that he has handled so well. On Saturday, Jalen completed four of six passes for 118 yards and one touchdown.

That’s saying a lot for a 20-year-old who started every game at Alabama in 2016 and 2017, taking the team to the National Championship game both years. 

He has played consistently and well. He has won the praise of his head coach, Nick Saban, and he has the admiration and the respect of his teammates.  

The talking heads on radio are surprised, even Matt Stinchcomb and Taylor Zazaur, who were on the television broadcast last Saturday. They heard the same applause that I did. 

They also saw 100,000 Alabama faithful rise to their feet at the end of the first quarter and give Jalen Hurts a standing ovation.

All the commentators had Jalen Hurts on that same transfer train that Kelly Bryant caught. But for now at least, Jalen isn’t going anywhere.  

Perhaps is it because Jalen knows he might have a chance to play for the National Championship for the third time.

Perhaps he wants to do what he came to Alabama to do — play football and earn a degree. Perhaps he loves his coaches and his teammates. Perhaps he is loyal to a program that has been good to him.

Or maybe it is because Jalen Hurts loves the fans at Alabama … and they love him back.

Jack Lazarus is an Alabama alum and a Natchez resident.