HOOVER, Ala. — Opinions continue to vary when discussing Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts.
There is the crowd expecting Hurts to make a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2 as a passer. Others believe true freshman Tua Tagovailoa should replace Hurts as the starter.
This after Hurts won SEC Offensive Player of the Year honors while accounting for 3,734 yards, 36 total touchdowns and leading Alabama to the national championship game.
Hurts was voted preseason first-team All-SEC last week so at least some in the media believe he is the conference’s top quarterback.
Two quarterbacks who attended SEC Media Days — Arkansas’ Austin Allen and South Carolina’s Jake Bentley — both spoke highly of Hurts.
Allen, a rising senior, saw Hurts in action when Alabama defeated Arkansas 49-30 in Fayetteville. Hurts threw for 253 yards and 2 touchdowns to 1 interception that Saturday.
“He’s a guy that you see on game days where he’s just a cool, calm kind of guy where nothing’s going to phase him,” Allen said. “He’s a really, really good quarterback as well.”
Bentley and Hurts were both counselors at the Manning Passing Academy earlier this summer. Bentley said he and Hurts spoke often during their time at the camp. He came away impressed with Hurts’ abilities.
“A lot of guys say he can’t throw, but that’s very untrue,” Bentley said during SEC Media Days, according to TideSports.com. “He can really throw it. Maybe he’s done a lot in the offseason to throw it better or something, I didn’t really watch him last year, but I know at the Manning camp that he was really throwing it well and he was very knowledgeable.”
SEC Country also spoke with four prominent voices covering college football — Paul Finebaum of ESPN/SEC Network, Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated, Barrett Sallee of CBS Sports and George Schroder (USA Today) — for their takes on Hurts.
“I think he’s phenomenal. I don’t think he gets enough credit for what he did last year. The fact that some Alabama fans are considering that he should be threatened for the job is absolutely laughable. He was one of the best players in the SEC last year. I just don’t know why people don’t give him his due.”
“I think he can throw. He’ll be fine. I think he was a pretty decent thrower when he got there and kind of regressed during the season last year. Maybe that’s because of all the stuff being heaped on him, the pressure and better defenses as they went along. But go back to that USC. That dude can throw. I think he’s going to be just fine. I think Alabama is in a very good position at quarterback to have him and then have Tua (Tagovailoa) as a backup. That’s one that most coaches would gladly trade for.”
“Really good quarterback who obviously has to grow. He was a very good true freshman, but he’s got problems. We all saw them. Even during the regular season when he was asked to stretch the field deep, there were times when you didn’t know where it was going. It looks good, but you have to be more consistent with it. What gets overstated and what is impossible is to have a referendum on Jalen Hurts after one year. There are people who say ‘He’s not going to be able to stretch the field deep.’ He didn’t get the job until Week 2. You can’t make a determination one way or another on him yet. I think he’s got the mindset. I think he’s got the ability physically. He’s got the upbringing being the son of a coach. He’s just going to have to do it. Sometimes guys have that in him, and sometimes they don’t. He’s going to have to do it this year because you’re going to have to win a lot of shootouts this year in the SEC.”
“Love his game. I would like to see him continue to improve as a passer. I think he got exposed just a little bit in the title game in that department. But, he’s so explosive. He brings a dimension Alabama has never had at quarterback in this era. That makes them that much more dangerous. If his pass game improves – and a lot of times guys make a huge leap from year one to year two as a starter – then at that point, they might be unstoppable.”