Junior quarterback Jalen Hurts is transferring to Oklahoma.
He made his announcement in a letter on The Players’ Tribune titled ‘To My Alabama Family.’
“I’m Bama for LIFE — and that right there will never change! But now it’s also time for me to start a new chapter in my story,” he wrote. “I’ve decided to take my talents to the University of Oklahoma, where I will continue my development as both a quarterback and as a student.”
He also visited Maryland and Miami over the weekend. Hurts will have one season of eligibility remaining. Hurts finished his undergraduate degree at Alabama in December and will be eligible to play immediately.
He entered the NCAA’s transfer portal after Alabama’s loss to Clemson in the national championship game, allowing other schools to contact him. He also visited Maryland and Miami over the weekend.
Hurts was supplanted by sophomore Tua Tagovailoa as Alabama’s starter this season but chose to remain with Alabama this season. He graduated from school in three years and served an important role as a backup this fall, helping Alabama win the SEC and finish 14-1.
“The education that I received at Alabama goes beyond a degree,” he wrote. “Coach Saban taught me the values and principles of business, as well as what it takes to be a great leader. My teammates taught me the importance of togetherness, brotherhood, and love. And this past season……. it taught me a lifetime’s worth of lessons about how to deal with adversity.”
At Oklahoma, he’ll have another opportunity to compete on the national stage. The Sooners have made three of the last four College Football Playoffs and won four consecutive Big 12 championships. Alabama beat Oklahoma 45-34 in the Orange Bowl on December 29. Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray won back-to-back Heisman trophies playing quarterback for the Sooners in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
Murray chose to enter the NFL draft this week and backup Austin Kendall, a former four-star recruit, chose to transfer from Norman. The Sooners return one scholarship quarterback, Tanner Mordecai, along with five-star signee Spencer Rattler.
Hurts leaves Tuscaloosa with a national championship ring and two SEC championships. He was named SEC Offensive Player of the Year and SEC Freshman of the Year in 2016. He is third all-time in school history with 48 touchdown passes and first in Alabama history among quarterbacks with 1,976 rushing yards and 23 rushing touchdowns.
He began his career as one of the most electric quarterbacks in school history in 2016. Hurts enrolled early and played the part of Deshaun Watson in Alabama’s practice before the end of the 2015 season. Buzz began to circulate during the spring of 2016 that the true freshman would be a factor in Alabama’s competition to replace quarterback Jake Coker.
Hurts didn’t win the job immediately as sophomore Blake Barnett opened the 2016 season as Alabama’s starter against Southern Cal. But Hurts came off the bench to throw two touchdowns and run for two more. He started the next game against Western Kentucky, opening a 26-2 run as Alabama’s starting quarterback.
Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin helped guide Hurts to 2,780 passing yards and 954 rushing yards that season. He had 36 total touchdowns as a freshman (23 passing and 13 rushing) while winning SEC Offensive Player of the Year and SEC Freshman of the Year. Alabama began the season 14-0 before losing the national championship game to Clemson in Tampa, Fla.
Alabama’s offense struggled at times in the championship game; Hurts completed less than half of his passes. But he led Alabama to a go-ahead touchdown on his final drive, leaving the field with a 31-28 lead. Clemson responded with a game-winning touchdown with one second remaining to win 35-28.
Three Alabama quarterbacks transferred during or after the season: Barnett, Cooper Bateman and David Cornwell all left for other schools after Hurts won the starting job.
The offense shifted in 2017 when Brian Daboll arrived. Hurts remained starting quarterback, passing for 2,081 yards with 17 touchdowns against just one interception. He also rushed for 855 yards and eight touchdowns. Alabama reached the College Football Playoff again despite a November loss to Auburn and Hurts helped Alabama defeat Clemson in the Sugar Bowl.
Alabama trailed Georgia 13-0 at halftime of the national championship game. The Crimson Tide had just 89 yards and Hurts had missed an open receiver for a touchdown. Tagovailoa entered the game to start the second half and helped lead Alabama to a 26-23 win in overtime, including a 41-yard touchdown pass to fellow freshman DeVonta Smith on the game’s final play.
That sparked an offseason discussion about whether Tagovailoa or Hurts would be Alabama’s starter in 2018 and whether one quarterback might transfer. Hurts voiced his discomfort with some of the speculation at Alabama’s media day in August.
Tagovailoa opened the season as the starter and never relinquished the job with an historic season. While he finished runner-up in the Heisman, Hurts played in 13 games, throwing for 765 yards with eight touchdowns. He added 167 rushing yards and two more touchdowns while also playing in a gadget package at time.
His final highlight came against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. Tagovailoa had struggled against the Bulldogs on the same field on which he had won the national championship before being knocked out of the game with an ankle injury. Hurts entered in the fourth quarter trailing 28-21 and led Alabama on two touchdown drives to win the game 35-28. That clinched Alabama’s fifth straight playoff appearance.
He has 71 total touchdowns in his career, a total surpassed only by AJ McCarron. Hurts became one of the most popular players in school history this season when he chose to remain and play the year out rather than redshirt or transfer.
“Not everyone in this life gets the chance to be a role model,” he wrote. “And that’s why I’m on this mission: to be the best player, leader, and man that I can be. I know everything will unfold according to God’s timing. I am blessed to be where my feet are; my trust is in his hands.”