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Alabama Crimson Tide All-Access: Where will Jalen Hurts play in 2019?

The news was not entirely unexpected, but got much closer to reality on Wednesday: Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts has entered his name into the NCAA’s transfer portal, meaning other schools can begin contacting him to gauge his interest.

I would willing to bet that dozens have already done so, and Hurts will have any number of options as to where he’ll play in 2019. But what are the best fits?

Like most players, Hurts almost certainly wants to go somewhere he can play immediately (he has just one year of eligibility) and has a chance to win. But even more importantly, he would want to go somewhere that can help him get to the NFL.

Those criteria cut out a lot of schools already, but there are still a lot left on the board. Here are five possibilities, listed in alphabetical order:

(One school I’ll eliminate right off the top is Auburn. As great as the Hurts-to-Auburn story would be for online comments sections and sports talk radio, he seems to genuinely care about his legacy at Alabama. Going to the hated in-state rival would burn all that down immediately).

Florida: Dan Mullen has done a great job of preparing quarterbacks for the pros, from Alex Smith at Utah to Tim Tebow at Florida (who, for all his flaws, was a first-round pick and won an NFL playoff game) to Dak Prescott at Mississippi State. Hurts’ skill set would seem to fit Mullen’s spread option attack perfectly. The biggest potential drawback is that there’s no clear path to start in Gainesville, with two-year starter Feleipe Franks set to return in 2019.

Houston: It would be a homecoming for Hurts, who grew up in the Houston suburb of Channelview. The Cougars also have an offensive-minded new coach in Dana Holgorsen and just graduated a senior starting quarterback in D’Eriq King. Sophomore Clayton Tune was the back-up in 2018 (former Tennessee quarterback Quinten Dormady transferred again, this time to Central Michigan). However, would Hurts be a good fit for an air raid spread offense that might require him to throw the ball 50-60 times per game?

Maryland: There would be an automatic comfort level for Hurts in following former Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley to Maryland, both in terms of personal relationships and familiarity with the offense. Terrapins starter Kasim Hill was lost for the season with a torn ACL in November, so Hurts might provide a good one-year bridge while Hill recovers (former Clay-Chakville QB Tyrell Pigrome is also around). The biggest question would be, is Maryland prepared to win in 2019, or would Hurts take a beating in the Big Ten?

Miami: The Hurricanes have a new coach (Manny Diaz) and offensive coordinator (reportedly Tee Martin), plus an opening at quarterback following the departure of the up-and-down Malik Rosier. N’Kosi Perry played extensively as a redshirt freshman in 2018, but perhaps could use another year to develop. Miami opens the season with Florida, but avoids Clemson on this year’s ACC schedule, so there’s an opportunity to win. But would playing for a rookie head coach and a coordinator who was fired from his last job be the best path to a potential NFL career for Hurts?

TCU: The Horned Frogs have a stable head coach in Gary Patterson and a need at quarterback (erstwhile starter Shawn Robinson recently transferred to Missouri). Fort Worth is also fairly close to home for Hurts, if not right in his hometown. Though they are a member of the Big 12, the Horned Frogs are a team built on defense and ball-control, which would seem to fit Hurts’ skill set well. And while TCU did go 7-6 in 2018, they lost two games by a total of four points. The only drawback is that Patterson doesn’t have a history of sending quarterbacks to the NFL (Andy Dalton is the only QB he’s had drafted in 19 years at TCU).

My money right now is on Maryland, though I think Florida would be the best fit.

So what do you think? Where will Jalen Hurts suit up in 2019?

I’ll take your questions and comments on that or anything else on your mind beginning at 10 a.m.

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