Saturday marked the fifth game that quarterback Jalen Hurts has played this season, meaning he is no longer eligible to take advantage of a new redshirt rule that would have allowed him to play in four games, still redshirt, and have two more seasons to play instead of one – presumably after transferring. Hurts made it clear months ago that he was going to stay at Alabama to graduate given how close he was to that milestone.
Still, some thought there was at least a small chance that Hurts could have taken advantage of the rule.
On Saturday in his post-game press conference, Nick Saban came as close as he has yet to tipping his hand in regards to what Hurts will do next.
“I know there’s been a lot of talk around here about guys transferring and the transfer rule; you know Jalen obviously handled this extremely well relative to be a great team player and a great team leader, respecting his teammates, and sticking with the program here and playing very well today and taking advantage when he does have the opportunity to play and play well and try and create value for himself, which would be the message that I would send to all who are trying to take advantage of this new transfer rule,” Saban said.
Even though Saban didn’t specifically point out a December timeline, I think the “creating value” message was the one that Saban sold Hurts when it came to staying at Alabama instead of leaving. I’ve already written about how important I thought Dan Enos was to both Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa’s development as passer this year and the value of learning under Enos this year is exactly the kind of value Saban referenced on Saturday.
Sure, Hurts could have left after four games this year and transferred to any number of schools, but by staying at Alabama for one more year and adding value to his skillset as a passer, to go along with his value as a runner and a leader, Hurts puts himself in a position to find the best situation for himself once he graduates in December. Through five games this season as a backup, Hurts is 26-of-37 for 394 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception; Hurts is completing more than 70 percent of his passes, a personal best in his three year career so far.
To add some perspective, Hurts had only completed 70 percent of his passes in seven total games in his two previous seasons as the starter.
Even in a backup role Hurts will have plenty of opportunity to develop his game before graduating. He will be highly sought-after as a graduate transfer with one season to play. Depending on how much coaches think he has progressed as a passer could indeed make Jalen Hurts the biggest name in college football free agency as his father once predicted.
(You can follow Justin Nails on Twitter @JustinNails)
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