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Jalen Hurts is Still a True Freshman

Cedric Mason - Touchdown Alabama Magazine

Alabama’s Jalen Hurts is coming off his worst statistical performance of the season. The freshman phenom finished the game against Washington with only 57 passing yards after only completing 50-percent of his passes. On top of that, outside of a 33-yard run at the beginning of the third quarter, Hurts was held to only 17 yards rushing on 18 attempts. There is little doubt that it was a struggle for Hurts against one of the most complete defenses in the country, but that shouldn’t take away from his outstanding performance overall this season.

Following the game against the Huskies, Hurts now checks in with the 8th most passing yards by an Alabama quarterback in the history of the program — 2,649 yards. In addition, the former four-star from Channelview, Texas now has the fourth most touchdown passes in a single season as well — 22 touchdowns.

That’s really impressive considering Hurts is more so known for his ability with his legs at this point in his young career — 891 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns in his first season. In fact, when you take Hurt’s ability to run the football into consideration, his 3,540 total yards ranks him second — only behind Blake Sim’s 3,837 totals yards — for any Alabama quarterback in history. Keep in mind, this guy was playing high school football last year.

There is no doubt that Hurts has a lot of things he needs to work on, but it’s easy for people to forget his youth. He has seen a lot of adversity since walking on the field against USC back on September 3rd, but he has overcome. Following a fumble return for a touchdown to put Ole Miss up 24-3 right before halftime, the game had clearly gotten ugly for Hurts and the offense. Hurts overcame, and he helped carry the team to a victory after finishing with his most productive game running the football of the season — 146 rushing yards.

How about being in Baton Rouge at night against an LSU defense that held this year’s Heisman Trophy winner to his worst statistical performance of the season — Lamar Jackson was held to 153 yards passing, 33 yards rushing and zero touchdowns in the Citrus Bowl yesterday. Bottom line is when it counted, Hurts has managed to step up and make plays this season.

No, he isn’t a polished passer. In fact, he has been one of the worst passers in college football when he has been under pressure this season. This shouldn’t really be surprising, however. He is still a true freshman. Learning the ins and outs of being a polished passer is going to take time. People forget that there was a four-man competition at the quarterback position for much of the offseason. Around the time that training camp started up in August, the coaching staff had narrowed it down to three, but that still meant that Hurts wasn’t receiving any sort of significant attention.

Young, mobile quarterbacks tend to find comfort in using their legs early on in their careers. In Russell Wilson’s first season at NC State, he only averaged 177.7 passing yards per game and finished with his second most rushing yards in a season — 388 rushing yards. It’s a matter of showing a positive progression in growth and development. Wilson showed that over the course of his college career at both NC State and Wisconsin.

There has been a lot ups and downs for Hurts this season, but no one can deny that he has found a way to help the team get it done each and every step of the way. Now, Alabama is going to need Hurts to be a much more effective player come next Monday when they face off against Clemson for the national championship. There are still things he needs to work on in the offseason, but do not forget that Hurts has a chance to be the first true freshman starting quarterback to win a national championship since Jamelle Holieway did it in 1985 with the Oklahoma Sooners.


Clint Lamb is a columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can “follow” him on Twitter @ClintRLamb.

Football, recruiting analyst for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. Born and raised in Athens (Ala.), but currently reside in Birmingham. I attended Birmingham-Southern College. Former linebacker/defensive end. Sigma Nu.

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