Jalen Hurts transfer rumors have dominated the college football off-season. It is not every season that an SEC offensive player of the year at quarterback could become available. Hurts has a remarkable record as starting quarterback, losing just two games at Alabama, one of which came against Deshaun Watson in the national championship.
With all that being said, Hurts should probably leave Tuscaloosa. It may seem like an abrupt move, especially given Tua Tagovailoa's injury, and the uncertainty it raised in this spring. However, college snaps are incredibly valuable, especially for someone that wants to prove himself as a potential quarterback at the next level.
For a while, the Hurts transfer possibility was mostly rumor. There was word that he had discussed it with people, but there was no concrete evidence that he was looking to leave if Tagovailoa beat him out. That changed this week.
On Thursday, Bleacher Report published an interview with Averion Hurts, the Alabama QB's father, on the possibility of a Jalen Hurts transfer.
“Coach Saban’s job is to do what’s best for his team. I have no problem with that,” Averion Hurts said. “My job is to do what’s best for Jalen—and make no mistake, Jalen is a quarterback, and he wants to play quarterback. He loves Alabama, loves Coach Saban and everything about that place. But he wants to play, and he will play…”
Averion stops mid-sentence because the idea of his son not playing for Alabama isn’t one he takes lightly. What if Jalen doesn’t win the job, he is asked?
He shakes his head slowly, answers begrudgingly. “Well, he’d be the biggest free agent in college football history.”
The most indicative phrase in that portion of the interview: "free agent." Notice that he didn't use the word transfer.
By this point, most of us recognize that college football is big business. Wherever you fall on the "pay the players" debate, we all know that the sport brings in big money for the programs, and it does create financial opportunities for players down the line.
Heading into his third year of college play, Hurts is getting into the crunch time of his college career. One advantage he does have in this situation, is his preserved redshirt. That would allow him to transfer and maintain two full years of eligibility left, after sitting out for a year.
If he wants to maximize his potential, Hurts should find a spot where he can win the job for 2019, and an offense in which he can shine for one or two years. In an ideal world, he'll make that decision this summer, after finishing out the semester in Tuscaloosa.
Sure, the Alabama quarterback battle isn't settled. And yes, he is the incumbent starter, and there's a fair chance that Nick Saban uses him first in Week 1 against Louisville, no matter what happens during camp in August. ESPN's Peter Burns made that point on Twitter this morning.
We all saw the national title game, though. Hurts is very good, maybe even great, but Tagovailoa can take Alabama's offense to another level. He's athletic, unafraid, and has crazy arm talent. None of that is a knock on Hurts, whose accomplishments should not be undersold. However, it was very telling that Saban went with an unproven true freshman quarterback with his back against the wall during the season's biggest moment. Whether it is the first snap of Week 1, or it takes until SEC play to become clear, Tagovailoa is going to be the guy.
Hurts can be the guy elsewhere. There are at least 110 FBS programs that would significantly upgrade at quarterback with a Jalen Hurts transfer. He has time to go over his options, make the move, and spend a full season acclimating to the team and learning the offense.
Ultimately, it is Hurts's decision to make. No one could fault him for staying at Alabama. However, assuming his father has an idea of where his son's thinking is, it sounds like he wants to play. If that is the case, the move is to commit to a program where he can maximize his chance to start, play, and win big, and to do it as soon as he can.