Jalen Hurts wants a national championship.
He came dangerously close to being the first true freshman in Alabama football history and first in college football since Jamelle Holieway (Oklahoma, 1985) to deliver his team the ultimate prize; however, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson had the final say back in January.
While the blame game circled from Nick Saban’s pride (not allowing Lane Kiffin to coach the title game) to Kiffin’s off-field antics, seven 3-and-outs on offense is what ultimately wore down the Crimson Tide’s defense – allowing Watson and the Tigers to carrying home the title.
Even after winning the starting job, producing strong numbers and getting the Southeastern Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year, Hurts understands that at Alabama one is known for finishing the job. During an interview with ESPN’s Chris Lowe on Thursday, Hurts reflects on the College Football Playoff National Championship loss and shares his preparation for redemption this fall.
“It was a learning experience for sure,” Hurts said. “Looking back on it now, you see what you missed and you see the differences in your game. Learning from it and improving from it.”
Despite keeping a calm demeanor on camera, there are subtle moments within Hurts’ interview where one can tell the loss is still eating at him.
“It’s definitely always going to be there,” he said. “But, we [Alabama] are on a new chapter now and we get to redeem ourselves. We have a standard and I’m not going to say that we expect championships every year; it’s just that with the work we put in you expect success out of it.”
Before last season, head coach Nick Saban was the equivalent of Michael Jordan. Jordan never lost in an NBA Finals, including the three he secured upon his return from retirement. Saban was on the verge of going six for six in national titles game, until the Tigers snatched it away.
Throughout the interview, which lasted one minute, Hurts appears to be focused on the team earning redemption but all offseason the questions have been about his progress as a passer.
Per sources, it has been his leadership that’s grown through the summer.
Both wide receiver Calvin Ridley and offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman spoke to the press during SEC media days on how Hurts is becoming more vocal in the locker room.
Following a 300-yard performance on A-Day and continuing to fine-tune his accuracy in fall practice, Alabama’s season opener versus Florida State will be the stage to show off a complete package in Hurts. Regardless of grabbing a Sports Illustrated cover and landing on five preseason award lists, the native Texan is competitive and competitors want championships.