MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Jalen Hurts won’t say what comes next. Even if he knows, the quarterback understands how quickly certainty can dissolve.
Hurts was a two-year starter with two career losses at Alabama, benched at halftime in last year’s national championship. He was a season-long backup, and distant memory, called on to lead the Crimson Tide to a comeback win in the SEC title game.
Though it seems obvious that Hurts will soon transfer, rather than spend his final season behind Tua Tagovailoa, the junior insisted Thursday he might remain at Alabama.
“I’ve never said anything about transferring,” Hurts said at Orange Bowl media day. “Those words have never come out of my mouth. It’s always been kind of assumptions.
“If I haven’t spoken about it, I don’t think there’s a conversation to be had.”
After being named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year as a freshman, the Sugar Bowl MVP in last season’s playoff semifinal and compiling a 26-2 record as a starter, Hurts lost his job to Tagovailoa on the sport’s biggest stage.
It seemed certain Hurts would spend his final two seasons of eligibility at a different school. Instead, the dual-threat quarterback remained in Tuscaloosa and earned his degree. If Hurts transfers after this season, he would be immediately eligible to play.
“I’ve been counted out. I was supposed to do this, I was supposed to do that. Even last year after the [championship] game, I was supposed to be gone,” Hurts said. “This year I was supposed to redshirt and do all those things. But I’m here. I’m here for my team and that’s what is important to me.
“As a man and as a competitor, you have values and try to do things the right way. For me I’ve tried to do the best things for my team and ultimately be ready at any moment to play for my team. Because this is my team.”
Hurts played few meaningful snaps this season and missed two games with a high ankle sprain, while watching Tagovailoa lead the most dominant offense during Nick Saban’s dynasty.
Then, Hurts was asked to take the field and beat the same Georgia team his coach determined he wouldn’t be able to beat in the second half last January.
Replacing an injured Tagovailoa, Hurts threw the game-tying touchdown pass and ran for the game-winning score to claim the SEC crown.
Hurts became an inspiration for how he handled the benching. He became a legend for how he handled his second chance.
“Well, we’ve always had a lot of faith in Jalen, and I told him when we put him in when Tua got hurt, ‘It’s your time.’ And he certainly took advantage of it and did a fantastic job,” an unusually emotional Saban said after the win. “I’m so proud of this guy for what he’s done this year. I can’t even tell you.”
What comes next? Anything.
“My story’s far from over,” Hurts said.