Saban Suggested Hurts Join Sooners
Jalen Hurts is a name that evokes immense emotions from Alabama nation. some fans love him and appreciate his time at the Capstone, some fans think he got a raw deal with Tagovailoa replacing him as a starter, some fans believe he wasn't replaced fast enough. One thing is clear, Nick Saban still loves and respects the former Crimson Tide quarterback.
Saban joined Philadelphia Eagles analyst Fran Duffy to discuss the 2020 2nd round draft pick.
Saban discussed recruiting Hurts and what caught the coach's eye during recruitment.
"Well, you know, Jalen was a great athlete. His dad was actually his high school coach, which was a little bit unusual. I think his dad did a great job of bringing Jalen up as a great character person, a very good leader on the field. Players responded to him very, very well. You know, Jalen, a lot of people had questions about can he throw the ball as well and I remember Lane Kiffin was here at the time and he went and watched him in the spring. He said, this guy is athletic and has a live arm and can make a lot of good throws. So we ended up being very, very excited and happy that we got Jalen and he did a great job here for us - especially starting as a freshman," said Saban.
Saban went on to talk about what Hurts did to earn the trust of the coaching staff early on to become the Crimson Tide's starting quarterback in 2016.
"Well I think it was time and circumstance a little bit. We had to adapt some of the things that we did to his skill set. I think that because a lot of these guys who are very athletic quarterbacks, they don't really have to grow up and go through progression reads as quarterbacks. They can look at one guy and if that guy is not open they can take off running and they have tremendous success doing that. Or they scramble and make a play and the defense breaks down because of their athletic ability. We had to do some things to enhance some of the stuff that Jalen can do, this whole spread offense kind of can feature a guy like him very easily. He did a great job for us and showed a lot of maturity with some good players around him to be able to continue to improve and develop as a quarterback. He improved each and every year as a passer at understanding the reads in the passing game, making good choices and decisions. He did a great job for us as a freshman," said Saban.
Saban spoke about the irony in Hurts's career of being pulled out of the 2017 National Championship game and then being thrust into the 2018 SEC Championship to complete and Alabama comeback of his own. He commented that Hurts improved the most the year he sat behind Tua Tagovailoa and honed in on his skills.
Saban mentioned that a big aspect for Hurts in staying at Alabama was the desire to graduate from the University of Alabama. Saban then detailed what he told Hurts when he knew transferring was in his future.
"I remember him coming in to me and saying, 'I can go to Miami,' because the quarterback coach had gone to Miami as offensive coordinator, the quarterback coach here Dan Enos. 'Mike Locksley got the head coaching job at Maryland I can go to Maryland and I can go to Oklahoma.' I said Jalen where do they have the best players? Because he felt more comfortable going where he knew these guys. He said, 'Well I think they have the best players at Oklahoma.' I said well we just played them, I think they've got pretty good players on offense too. I said you know I've always told you that quarterback is a hard position to play if you don't have good players around you. So if I were you, to create the most value, because you've got one year to do it. If you know you can be the starter there, go where they've got the best players. That's no disrespect to anyone else, the guys who worked here and did a great job here. It's about what's best for you, that's how you've got to make this decision and he did it and I think he did a great job at Oklahoma as well," said Saban.
Saban complimented Hurts's ability to adapt to new systems, noting that he played in several offensive systems at Alabama and a brand new system at Oklahoma. He predicted he will adapt and pick up the offense in Philadelphia quickly.