Photo credit: Jason Parkhurst
By Michael Kinney
ATLANTA – For what may have been the first time all season, Jalen Hurts was human, so to speak. When the Oklahoma quarterback took to the podium after his Sooners were decimated 63-28 by No. 1 LSU in the semifinals of the College Football Playoffs, Hurts had done something he hadn’t done the entire season. He opened up.
“It’s hard to just sit here and reflect on four years, a whole year with my brothers this year, all of that right now. It hurts me,” Hurts said. “You talk about how much it means to you and the team. It’s supposed to hurt. This is not a good feeling. This is a feeling I’ve never felt before.”
Hurts unprecedented college career came to an end on the turf of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium Dec. 28 with the loss to No. 1 LSU. So it’s understandable why he was reflective.
Yet, when Hurts first arrived on the University of Oklahoma campus, he had envisioned a different outcome.
“It hurts me in my heart, you know,” Hurts said. “When I decided to come to this school, I told Coach (Lincoln) Riley, I’m going to go win you a National Championship, and I failed to do that.”
At times this season it looked like a one-man show to fans and opponents. That includes members of the LSU defense, who said going into the Peach Bowl that if the stop the Heisman trophy runner-up then they would be fine.
While it sounded like bold talk from the Tigers, it ended up being true. Once LSU was able to stop Hurts running the ball, he was unable to get the passing game going. Some of that had to do with a porous offensive line that was unable to stand up to the physical Tigers front.
But it was also Hurts unable to complete passes into tight windows, an issue he had during the regular season. While he improved immensely as a passer in his one season at Oklahoma, he wasn’t where needed to be to knock off a squad like LSU.
In his one season with the Sooners, Hurts accomplished a lot. Despite having to learn an entirely new offense, he threw for 3,851 yards and 32 touchdowns while completing 69.7 percent of his passes.
Hurts also led the Sooners in rushing yards (1,407), carries (233) and rushing TDs (20) while earning runner-up status in the Heisman.
“I’m incredibly proud of Jalen,” OU center Creed Humphrey said. “He did a great job for us. He was a great leader for us. I’m really happy I got to be a part of his football journey. He was a part of mine. It takes a really extraordinary person to do that. He is an extraordinary person. I’m really happy that he came and spent this year with us.”
Whether Hurt’s stint at Oklahoma will be looked at as a success or not could be determined on what happens in the future.
In many people’s eyes. Hurts was the bridge between Baker Mayfield-Kyler Murray era to the Spencer Rattler.
Rattler was the top-ranked quarterback coming out of high school this past season but sat the bench for a season behind Hurts and red-shirted this year. At 6-0, 197 pounds, Rattler fits more of the style Riley has built during his time at Oklahoma. With a live and accurate arm, many predict he will pick up the Heisman torch Mayfield and Murray left behind.
Yet, he needed the year of seasoning on the bench to prepare him to be the face of the Sooner’s program. If he was able to learn from Hurts on and off the field, then Hurt’s legacy could, in the end, lead to a championship in the near future.
“Moving forward, I definitely hope — I’ve already told them, I hope that you guys learn from this,” Hurts said. “I hope everybody learns from this. It hurts me the most because usually, when you come up short in something, you can come back and you can fix it. I can’t come back and fix it. I’ll never play college football again.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider