Saturday in Atlanta, Alabama football fans and the nation were treated to a life lesson in perseverance and redemption, compliments of Jalen Hurts.
The celebration over the Alabama football comeback win over Georgia has subsided. The memories will last a lifetime. There were two come-from-behind victories last Saturday and both were improbable.
The comeback victory by the Alabama football team was the lesser of the improbabilities. The redemption of Jalen Hurts was much more, a story few could have envisioned. Except, Jalen had a premonition of it. Which means others believed in it as well. Probably a few teammates, his family and at least a trio of Alabama football coaches had confidence in Jalen deeper than the circumstances indicated.
Those circumstances did not arise when Tua Tagovailoa hobbled off the field following a second injury. They went back almost 11 months to the low point of Jalen’s life. Losing his role as the Crimson Tide offensive leader was hard for Jalen. A demotion, the result of failing to perform is hard for anyone to accept, especially for a 19-year old, young man who went through it in the national spotlight.
This week, Jalen disclosed after the national championship game, he was in tears.
after the national championship game. I’m in the hotel room with my parents, my brother and my sister. And I’m in my parent’s — my mom’s and dad’s — arms crying. I look up at my dad and said ‘What are we going to do now?’ He told me, he looked me in my eyes and said, ‘We are going to fight.’
And fought they did. From a distance, some of us Alabama football fans (I confess being one) became convinced a transfer away from Tuscaloosa was inevitable. With the new redshirt rules, holding Jalen in reserve appeared to be best for Jalen and Alabama football. Keeping Jalen eligible to fill-in late in the season in case of injury to Tua, seemed to make the most sense. Such a plan would have also allowed Jalen to subsequently transfer with two years of eligibility.
That was not Nick Saban’s plan and fortunately for Alabama football, it was not Jalen’s plan.
I was raised to compete. All throughout high school, you can ask my high school teammates and my dad was my high school coach and he always harped on competing and fighting to the finish. I think my parents did a great job. I’m so thankful to them. I’m thankful for my brother and my little sister. I’m just blessed to be where I am.
Compete was just what Jalen did. To become a better, more all-around player – a player who could lead a comeback for his team on a big stage.
Some of us Alabama football fans lost faith in Jalen. Not the person, but the quarterback. Outside his family and teammates, three men did not, Nick Saban, Mike Locksley and Dan Enos. The trio of coaches developed Jalen into a better QB. Make that a much better QB.
There were many winners Saturday night in Atlanta. The Alabama football players and coaches won. Jalen won more than anyone else – more than a football game. After the game, talking about Jalen, Nick Saban said,
He’s done so much for this program. I think he’s handled things with such high character and class in the way he’s supported his teammates this year. It was great to see him get an opportunity
Jalen Hurts is now an Alabama Crimson Tide legend. The path Jalen had to follow makes the honor all the more special. Nick Saban knows Jalen’s trial of adversity and perseverance was a lesson that will benefit him throughout his life.
It also sends a powerful message throughout the world of college football. Nick Saban and the Alabama football staff develop players – players who believe in themselves and have faith in Nick’s process.
Years ago, Paul Bryant said. “I ain’t never been nothing but a winner.” Last week, Dabo Swinney said winning championships alone is not enough. Nick Saban would agree both men were correct. Alabama football fans believe winning championships is in our collective DNA. But those national championships are only one measurement of success. Jalen Hurts has shown us another measurement, and for that, we should be forever grateful.
How much have circumstances changed for Jalen? More than a few Alabama football fans now think his dual-threat talents give the Tide as good a recipe to beat Oklahoma as Tua’s arm.