It’s hard to find a bigger breakout star in the NFL this season than Jalen Hurts. The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback has emerged as one of the best in the league this season, accounting for nearly 4,500 yards and 35 touchdowns. He will likely be a MVP finalist, and the Eagles are a Super Bowl contender largely thanks to him.
Before he rose to NFL stardom, though, Hurts was an instant star at the collegiate level. He first began his career at Alabama, where he led the Crimson Tide to the National Championship Game in both 2016 and 2017. The Tide couldn’t finish the job in 2016, and while they did in 2017, it was Tua Tagovailoa receiving all the glory after he replaced a struggling Hurts at halftime of the National Championship Game.
Hurts then spent a year as Tagovailoa’s backup, and while he saw a decent amount of playing time, the writing was on the wall. As a result, he transferred to Oklahoma for the 2019 season to replace the void left by Kyler Murray’s departure. With Lincoln Riley’s Sooners, Hurts had easily his best statistical season and led them to the College Football Playoff again.
As Jalen Hurts prepares to play in his first NFC Championship Game, we wanted to reflect on his collegiate career. Here are Hurts’ top five moments from his time with Alabama and Oklahoma.
3. Jalen Hurts shines in his Oklahoma debut
Hurts’ final start at Alabama came in the National Championship Game in January 2018. His first start with Oklahoma came in Week 1 of the 2019 season, meaning he had gone 20 whole months without starting a game. With that much time off, some may have expected Hurts to look rusty in his Sooners debut, but he looked better than ever.
The Sooners hosted D’Eriq King and the Houston Cougars to kick off the 2019 season. Hurts instantly proved he still had it, accounting for 508 yards and six total touchdowns. In his first game, he shattered the school record for total yards in a single game, which previously belonged to Baker Mayfield at 396 yards.
Hurts had plenty of dazzling performances throughout the season, even finishing second in Heisman voting. However, that statement win in his Sooners debut was his most memorable moment of his Oklahoma career.
2. Hurts and Alabama avenge loss to Clemson
The Crimson Tide entered the 2016 National Championship Game against Clemson with a perfect 14-0 record. Hurts didn’t play all that well in this game, but with Alabama leading by 10 entering the fourth quarter, it looked like they would complete the perfect season. However, Deshaun Watson’s last-second touchdown to Hunter Renfrow gave Clemson the national title and ended Alabama’s quest for perfection.
As fate would have it, these teams met again the following season, this time in the Sugar Bowl. This time around, Alabama dominated in a 24-6 win to end Clemson’s dreams of a repeat. Jalen Hurts only accounted for 160 total yards and two touchdowns, but that was more than enough with how dominant the defense was.
1. Hurts sparks Alabama’s comeback in the SEC Championship Game
Ironically enough, the best moment of Hurts’ college career came in a game he didn’t even start. Tagovailoa had been the starter for the entire 2018 season and had thrived in the role. However, Tagovailoa suffered an injury in the SEC Championship Game, forcing Hurts back into action.
When Tagovailoa left the game, Alabama trailed Georgia by seven early in the fourth quarter. Hurts led the Tide to two key touchdown drives, giving them the lead with just over a minute left. The defense then held off the Bulldogs’ offense to give the Tide the SEC crown.
This game was a mirror image of the National Championship Game just 11 months earlier, which was also against Georgia in Atlanta. Tagovailoa replaced Hurts in that game, while the opposite happened in this one. The symmetry between the two games is incredible, and cements this as Jalen Hurts’ best collegiate moment.