NORMAN — University of Oklahoma head football coach Lincoln Riley announced Tuesday that quarterback Jalen Hurts has signed a financial aid agreement with OU and has enrolled and is attending classes. A December graduate who earned a bachelor's degree in communication (public relations) from Alabama, Hurts will participate in spring practice and will have one season of eligibility with the Sooners.
Hurts started 14 games in each of Alabama's 2016 and 2017 seasons and saw action in 13 games in 2018. He played in three College Football Playoff National Championships and helped the Crimson Tide to the 2017 national title. Alabama went 41-3 in his three seasons in Tuscaloosa.
"(Jalen) certainly has the ability to be a really good leader for us," said Riley, who has coached OU to a 24-4 record and has produced Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray in his two seasons. "He's got to get in here and learn this team, learn this offense. He's got to get in here and compete for this quarterback job. There are a lot of steps ahead, but there's no doubt, this guy's been in some of the biggest and best games in college football here over the last few years.
"As I've gotten to know him, I've been really impressed by the way he carries himself, the way he works. There's not going to be much that happens to this kid that he hasn't been through already."
Hurts led the Crimson Tide to a 26-2 record in his 28 starts over the 2016 and 2017 seasons. He saw action in 13 games in 2018, including the SEC Championship when he replaced injured starter Tua Tagovailoa and rallied UA to a 35-28 win after it trailed 28-21 when he entered the game in the fourth quarter. Hurts threw a 10-yard touchdown pass with 7:08 left to tie the game at 28 and ran for a 15-yard score with 1:04 remaining for the game's final points.
From Channelview, Texas, Hurts owns the Alabama quarterback career record with 23 rushing touchdowns and ranks second in school history with 1,976 career rushing yards and 71 touchdowns responsible for. He amassed 7,602 yards of total offense and threw for 48 touchdowns, both good for third place in UA history.
Hurts recorded seven games of at least 100 rushing yards (high of 154 against Fresno State in 2017) and threw for at least two touchdowns in 12 contests.
"There's a great foundation here at Oklahoma, and Coach Riley does a great job," Hurts said Tuesday about why he chose OU. "He's very efficient in what he does. And for my last ride, my senior year, I want to be a part of it.
"Last year I was fully invested in the University of Alabama. And at the Orange Bowl I was fully invested in beating OU and getting to the National Championship. But now I'm part of the Sooner family and I'm thankful to be here."
Asked what excites him most about his opportunity at OU, Hurts was succinct.
"I want to go out with a bang," he said.
In his debut season of 2016, Hurts was named SEC Freshman of the Year, a freshman All-American by ESPN and USA Today, a finalist for the Manning Award and a semifinalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award and Davey O'Brien Award. That year he completed 240 of 382 pass attempts (62.8 percent) for 2,780 yards and 23 touchdowns against nine interceptions. He also ran for an Alabama quarterback-record 954 yards (5.0 per carry) and 13 TDs. In the second game of the season, Hurts became the first UA freshman quarterback to start a game under head coach Nick Saban, and he went on to start each of the next 27 contests. The Crimson Tide won its first 14 games in 2016 before falling to Clemson in the CFP National Championship, 35-31.
Hurts set the Alabama single-season record with his 36 touchdowns responsible for in 2016, and his 3,734 yards of total offense were the second most in school history. Against Mississippi State, he became the first UA player to ever rush for at least 100 yards (100) and pass for at least 300 (347). It was one of four 100-yard rushing games for him that season.
Hurts' 2017 sophomore season saw him complete 154 of 255 pass attempts (60.4 percent) for 2,081 yards and 17 touchdowns versus just one interception. He rushed for 855 yards (5.6 per carry) and eight scores, and was named a Davey O'Brien Award semifinalist. Hurts registered three games of at least 100 rushing yards and was named offensive MVP in Alabama's 24-6 win over Clemson in the CFP Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
This past season, Hurts played in 13 games, completing 51 passes on 70 attempts (72.9 percent) for eight touchdowns with two interceptions, good for a 196.7 passing efficiency rating. He also ran for 167 yards (4.6 per carry) and two TDs.
"I think he's really progressed as a thrower with a lot of the film I've watched this year," added Riley. "I see a very, very capable thrower, a very good athlete. He's strong. He's going to have much different build than a couple of these (quarterbacks) we've had the last few years."
Riley also said Hurts' experience of preparing for and playing in six College Football Playoff games is invaluable.
"He knows how to prepare for those games, knows what to expect, all the buildup and being able to focus on what's really important," explained Riley. "I don't think there's any doubt that's one of the things he brings to the table. There's nothing to replace having been in those games. I think it will help him individually. It's going to make a big difference."
A unanimous four-star prospect out of Channelview High School under head coach Averion Hurts (his father), Jalen Hurts was ranked as the nation's No. 1 dual-threat quarterback by 247Sports.
He threw for 2,384 yards and 26 touchdown passes in 11 games as a senior, and rushed for 1,391 yards and 25 TDs. He was named Texas District 21-6A MVP in his junior and senior seasons. Hurts chose Alabama over Florida, Mississippi State and Texas A&M.