Jalen Hurts’ father, Averion, made the some very controversial comments on Thursday, when he alluded to the possibility his son could transfer from Alabama. Jalen is 26-2 as a starter, and while he has struggled in the four College Football Playoff games he has played in, those games have come against the best teams in the country.
“He’d be the biggest free agent in college football history,” the elder Hurts told Matt Hayes of Bleacher Report.
Jalen Hurts is clearly a talented quarterback. But the biggest free agent in college football history? That’s going a bit too far. There have been a number of talented transfer players over the years who could classify as free agents —Randy Moss, Russell Wilson are among some of the most talented to come to mind. And there’s a case to be made that either Jacob Eason or Shea Patterson are both better, or at least more attractive, options than Hurts, though most of that is based on projected upside and previous recruiting rankings.
But the elder Hurts’ comments do spark an interesting talking point. Let’s say that every player in the SEC, since we focus on that conference, became available as a free agent. Who, at this point, would be the “biggest” or most sought after transfer? Here are our thoughts.
AJ Brown, wide receiver, Ole Miss
AJ Brown possibly could have become a “free agent” this offseason had he made the decision to transfer as a handful of his teammates did. Brown was the best receiver in the SEC last season and led the conference in receiving yards and touchdowns, He finished second in receptions.
Brown would make any offense instantly better. He has the potential to be a top-10 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Trey Smith, offensive line, Tennessee
You tend to only know offensive linemen either when they perform poorly or when they’re NFL draft prospects and people tweet clips of them being maulers. Trey Smith fits into the latter category. He was one of the lone bright spots for the Volunteers in 2017 as a freshman.
While he spent last season as a guard, he could move to tackle in the long term. For teams, life is much easier when you don’t have to worry about how your left or right tackle is going to hold up in pass protection.
Mack Wilson, linebacker, Alabama
Alabama has cycled through great college linebackers through the years, beginning with Rolando McClain and continuing through to Rashaan Evans. Mack Wilson figures to be the next linebacker who fits that mold.
As Georgia fans saw with Roquan Smith last season, a linebacker consistently playing out of his mind can make a real difference in turning a good defense into a great defense. Wilson figures to do that for Alabama one day. And he also figures to be a fan favorite as he has one of the most entertaining Twitter accounts in the SEC.
Raekwon Davis, defensive lineman, Alabama
Just as it does at the linebacker position, Alabama churns out monster defensive lineman, and Raekwon Davis is the next version of that. He’s listed at 6-foot-7 and led the Crimson Tide in sacks last season with 8.5. Who wouldn’t want something like that on their defensive line.
Jake Fromm, quarterback, Georgia
This list needed a quarterback. Nick Fitzgerald is rehabbing from a broken ankle. Drew Lock, despite leading the country in touchdown passes last season, also completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes against Purdue and South Carolina. Tua Tagovailoa, who would be the one pushing Hurts out, has a sample size of 77 pass attempts, most of which came in garbage time.
The quarterback with the fewest knocks against him is Fromm. His stats weren’t amazing, but he also led Georgia to a massive come-from-behind win against Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma. He’s got three years of eligibility, whereas Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham has just one left and his measurables don’t line up with the players who tend to leave after their junior season.