As Jalen Hurts was unexpectedly leading the Alabama Crimson Tide to a come-from-behind victory against the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship game on Saturday night, Tennessee Vols fans were salivating at the idea of the Texas native in Knoxville next season.
But the assumption that Hurts will leave Alabama after the 2018 season, even though Tua Tagovailoa will almost certainly regain his starting job once he’s healthy (likely by the first playoff game) is incredibly presumptuous.
Hurts saw the writing on the wall as the 2018 season started. It was evident very early in the season that he was the back-up to Tagovailoa. The easy route for Hurts would’ve been to transfer at that point (like Kelly Bryant did at Clemson) and have two years of eligibility remaining at a new school.
However, Hurts put his team first. After he led the Crimson Tide to their fourth SEC Championship in the last five years, he told the SEC Network “I don’t think transferring was ever a thing”.
“None of this has been easy, but I think it shows true character and true heart to fight to the finish.” – Jalen Hurtspic.twitter.com/swjPkukjdP
— BamaInsider.com (@bamainsider) December 2, 2018
Hurts will obviously have a big decision to make after this season. He’ll have one season of eligibility remaining and there’s a decent chance his quarterbacks coach, Dan Enos, is at a new program as an offensive coordinator next season. There’s also a decent chance that program is Tennessee.
If Enos is hired by Tennessee, it would make a lot of sense for Hurts to follow him to Knoxville. It doesn’t hurt that Hurts is already familiar with much of the staff at Tennessee.
Hurts would compete with Jarrett Guarantano for the starting job at UT. That’s a battle that Hurts would almost certainly win.
The idea of an Enos/Hurts combination in Knoxville next season should be exciting for Vol fans. But I think there’s a great chance Hurts remains in Tuscaloosa next season.
Hurts has a big decision to make
Hurts probably isn’t good enough to be a quarterback in the NFL. Yes, there’s a chance he might get a look by some teams. However, once his eligibility is up, his playing days will likely be over.
That means Hurts is playing for national championships. He isn’t going to win one at Tennessee in 2019. And he likely won’t go anywhere else and win one either.
We already know that Hurts puts team above self. And we also know that having him on the roster is beneficial to Alabama. If Hurts would’ve left the team at the start of the season, Alabama wouldn’t be SEC Champions right now.
Despite not being the starter, Hurts prepares like he’s going to play every snap of the game. He’s not afraid to work, even when he knows he’s not the guy. Essentially, he doesn’t back down when the going gets tough.
I also think Hurts just loves Alabama. While I wouldn’t be shocked if he ends up transferring at the end of the season, I tend to think he’ll be back in a Crimson uniform next season.
Featured image via ohn David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports