It’s not surprising that Alabama is undefeated and in the running for a national championship. What is surprising is the guy taking snaps for the team.
Jalen Hurts enrolled early, participated in bowl practices last year, had a full spring and eventually seized the starting quarterback job.
The Channelview, Texas, native used his athleticism to rush for 841 yards and 12 touchdowns and proved to be an effective passer as a true freshman as well. His 2,592 yards and 22 passing touchdowns both ranked in the top five among SEC quarterbacks.
It was a remarkable rise, fueled by talent and hard work. The question now is, can another SEC freshman quarterback make the same sort of impact in 2017? Here are a few players who have that chance:
Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
Mond, who played at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., is a 4-star recruit and the seventh-rated quarterback in this year’s class.
One of the key components of Hurts’ success is the fact that he enrolled early. Mond has signed his financial aid papers with A&M and he’ll be on campus in January.
His skill set aligns with this year’s starter, Trevor Knight, in that he’s equally adept running or throwing the football. At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, he has the frame to hold up physically — assuming he has an aggressive weight-lifting program when he hits college.
He won’t have a defense the caliber of Hurts’ to lean on in tough times, but Mond seems to be the most likely freshman quarterback coming into the league to emulate his rapid rise.
Jake Fromm, Georgia
We know what you’re thinking. Georgia already has a talented young quarterback in Jacob Eason. You’re right. He’s very, very good.
But anything can happen between now and September, and Fromm, the fourth-rated quarterback in this class, will be in a position to step in if Eason gets injured or otherwise falters.
Fromm is enrolling early after throwing for 3,910 yards and 41 touchdowns in just 10 games as a senior at Houston County (Ga.) High, and his presence for spring ball is a boon for his development.
IN-DEPTH: Fromm quite a catch for Bulldogs
Myles Brennan, LSU
The 11th-ranked quarterback in this class out of Bay Saint Louis, Miss., Brennan will not have the advantage of enrolling early and learning his new system in the spring.
He’s a talent, though, throwing for 3,982 yards and 48 touchdowns as a senior while rushing for 455 yards and 9 more touchdowns.
While incumbent Danny Etling likely will enter the season as a starter, Brennan should have the chance to impress new offensive coordinator Matt Canada in the preseason.
Another recruit, 4-star prospect Lowell Narcisse, also might find his way to Baton Rouge. If you believe Canada, the best player will play — no matter how young.
“We’re all blessed with different talents. Some of us are bigger, some of us are faster, some of us throw it better,” Canada said. “We want to find the best players we can who fit Coach (Ed Orgeron’s) philosophy, the excellence we have in this program, and we’ll find a way to score points with those players. As long as they’re a winner, we’ll find a way to win.”