Aaron Suttles, formerly of the Tuscaloosa News and presently of The Athletic, is reporting that Tide junior quarterback Jalen Hurts is expected to redshirt the 2018 season.
Barring injury to sophomore phenom Tua Tagovailoa, Hurts would sit out the balance of the year, and then transfer.
It’s important to note a few things here, some serious caveats:
- First, none of the other beat guys are reporting or confirming it: Orr, Casagrande, Zenitz, Cecil, Sabin, Jones, McNair, Potter etc. This is not to doubt the juice that Suttles has; he plainly does. With few exceptions, we’re not in the scoop biz at RBR. So, I’m not going to harangue folks at midnight to confirm or deny the report either. Suttles is a solid reporter though: I doubt seriously he’s pulling Athena from the head of Zeus here.
- If true, it would confirm a lot of the background chatter we’ve been hearing from people and players around the program. The word on the street has been that Jalen’s father, Averion Hurts, has been the issue here for the past nine months. He’s the one that very publicly declared his son “a free agent” should Hurts not be the quarterback at Alabama. Add to that, Jalen’s surliness and hurt feelings following an entire offseason where his incumbency was declared dead before he even had a chance to prove it on the field, and you can easily see the makings of a foul stew where the two feed off of one another. On one hand, Averion does not recognize his son’s limitations; on the other, Jalen has a perpetual hype man in his corner, selling him on perhaps unrealistic aspirations.
- Averion did try to walk back his comments somewhat over the last few weeks. And Hurts has seemed to be on the same page. But, following the Louisville opener, where Hurts had a serviceable game contrasted against Tua’s magnificent one, he officially lost his job. It was made clear that there is a place on the offense for him, and Saban still intended to play Jalen. But this may be a business decision in the works. Perhaps not the smartest one, but a business decision nonetheless. It’s an impetus you can understand too. If Jalen wants a chance to start, to prove himself as a quarterback, there are about 120 other programs that would welcome him and provide a clearer opportunity to compete: Tua Tagovailoa is going nowhere until he’s the first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. There’s no shame in thinking you can do better in another position or with a change of scenery. People leave their jobs for that very thing every single day. At this level, this is Jalen’s career.
- Even if verified, and it has not been — bear that in mind — Jalen Hurts is not pulling a midseason runner a la Blake Barnett. He is still very much a part of this team. Redshirted players don’t magically stop becoming part of the program. He will still be called upon to work with the scout team, to get reps in practice, to help prepare the team going forward. With the new redshirt rules, he still has three more opportunities to get live snaps. And, folks, in December he will have another distinction that ties him forever to the Capstone: a degree from Alabama.
But, the possibility is very real that Jalen Hurts may never take another snap in a crimson and white uniform. If that be the case, then it is his future and his education and his playing career at stake, not ours. And, while parents want the best for their children, it is not Averion’s decision to make either. If, and until, that day happens, we wish him the best and support his decision going forward.
And until it is confirmed, we will be cheering for him tomorrow. The Hurts era does not have to end in bad blood and in recriminations. Too many people are tearing the kid down because the person ahead of him on the depth chart has the potential to be a transcendent player. But I like to think we in the RBR community are better people and better fans than that.