Despite a heartbreaking loss to Clemson in the National Championship a couple of weeks ago, there is a lot to look forward to and it all starts with the freshmen phenom at quarterback: Jalen Hurts. Throughout the entire season Hurts showed that he is going to be a special player for the Tide and whatever NFL team is lucky enough to draft him going forward.
Hurts was a 4-star recruit coming out of Channelview High School in Channelview, Texas. He put up some remarkable numbers throughout his high school career, but his senior year was the most impressive as he passed for 2,384 yards and 26 touchdowns, while almost matching that production running the ball with 1,391 yards and 25 touchdowns. Ranking among the top dual threat quarterbacks in his class, and after drawing lots of national attention, Hurts committed to Alabama and wasted no time entering Nick Saban’s system.
Coming in as a true freshmen, Hurts quickly drew the attention of coaches and teammates during practices with his pretty passes, but more so with his feet. Reminding everyone of his freakish lower body strength, he’s squatted up to 570 pounds as a powerlifter in high school, Hurts would run around the field every single play like it was nothing, leaving defenders out of breath trying to catch him. He impressed Saban so much that by Week 2 he had beaten redshirt freshmen and 5-star recruit Blake Barnett for the starting job. Hurts became the first true freshmen to start at quarterback for the Crimson Tide since 1984, and he didn’t disappoint.
After a sloppy start where he fumbled his first snap, Hurts silenced the butterflies, shook off the rust, and never looked back. As the season progressed Hurts definitely seemed to display a lot more confidence and became much more comfortable taking command of the offense. It isn’t easy to start for the most dominant program in college sports, especially when your only 18 and one year removed from high school, but Hurts did an excellent job.
Looking absolutely nothing like a freshmen, Hurts threw for 2,780 yards and 23 touchdowns, while adding nearly 1,000 more yards and 13 more touchdowns with his feet. He led the Tide to a 13-0 record in the regular season and took them all the way to the National Championship, while breaking many school records and landing himself on the short list of Heisman candidates in the process. He consistently showed how talented he is and left defenses clueless on how to stop him time and time again. Whenever he turned the ball over or somebody made a mistake, Hurts didn’t show any emotion whatsoever and acted like he forgot it even happened seconds after it occurred. That is the kind of attitude that scouts will go crazy over since many NFL veterans have a hard time learning this. The fact that Hurts already possesses that mentality at 18 years old makes him even more impressive and will draw him even more attention from NFL teams. Hurts will be watched very closely over the remainder of his collegiate career by just about every scout there is.
The great thing about Hurts is that he has so much time to improve and develop. He is far from a perfect quarterback, but he is miles ahead of what you would expect from someone his age. He needs to improve his pocket presence and overall passing ability while touching up on other things, but nothing major. And when he does improve his weaknesses, he can easily be one of the most hyped NFL prospects in history.
The fact that he didn’t redshirt also gives Hurts a huge advantage over other quarterbacks since he has more playing experience under his belt. And on top of all that, he’s already played at the biggest stage in college football, so he has seen everything there is to be seen before he even turns 19. Oh and lets not forget, he’s basically already playing for an NFL offense, and Alabama will get the absolute best out of him during these next couple of years.
A lot of people who saw Hurts play this season would probably think he’s been Alabama’s quarterback for the past three years and is ready to declare for the 2017 NFL Draft. The craziest thing about this whole thing is that if Hurts were to declare for the NFL Draft this year, even though we all know he can’t, he would probably be a mid-round pick at least. His production this past season and truckload of upside would have been more than enough for one NFL team to pull the trigger on him and make him their quarterback of the future. He’s that advanced for his age.
It’s scary to even imagine how good Hurts will be by the time he’s ready to declare for the draft, which will be 2019 at the earliest. Next season will be a huge year for him with everybody in the country eager to see how he follows up his freshmen campaign and rebounds after coming up short in the National Championship.
So don’t worry about the loss Bama fans. It happens to everyone, even the best. Alabama is superior to every other team in college football every year and knowing them they’ll most likely win it all next season after the avalanche of top prospects they’re going to land in the coming months. But as long as Jalen Hurts is leading the way under center then you shouldn’t be worried about anything at all. National Championships and Heisman trophies are just the beginning for Hurts. He is one of the most special football players that’s been seen in a long time, and he has the abilities both on and off the field that can make him a superstar on every level. Roll Tide.