Jalen Hurts isn’t getting the same love from the national media as he did in 2016, with Sports Illustrated ranking the Alabama quarterback as the 75th-best player in the country this season.
Hurts won SEC Offensive Player of the Year honors as a true freshman, when he lead the Crimson Tide to a 14-1 record and a spot in the national championship game. However, his play during the postseason knocked him down the rankings.
“Hurts was a liability for the Crimson Tide’s passing game when it mattered most; he completed only 20 of his 45 attempts over their two College Football Playoff games,” Sports Illustrated’s Chris Johnson wrote. “Hurts should improve as a thrower this season, while still gashing opposing defenses with his running ability, but even if we grant that he may make a sophomore leap, that possibility doesn’t entirely outweigh Hurts’s subpar form at the end of last season.”
Alabama’s struggles during the College Football Playoff are part of the reason some fans have called for true freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to see the field. Head coach Nick Saban has dismissed talk of a quarterback competition.
But it’s worth noting that Hurts faced two top-12 defenses in the playoffs in Washington and Clemson. Despite his troubles in those games, Hurts had given the Crimson Tide a 31-28 lead with 2:07 remaining in the title game before Deshaun Watson’s game-winning drive.
In 2016, Hurts finished with 2,780 passing yards, 28 passing touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He also ran for 954 yards and 13 touchdowns.
On the Sports Illustrated list, Hurts ranked just behind Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham, who came in at No. 74 overall. Stidham didn’t play last season. He started three games at Baylor in 2015.