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College Football: Jalen Hurts Speaks, Kyler Murray's Final Season
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7 Aug 2018 06:49 PM EST

-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts attempts pass in Sugar Bowl. (Image Source: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Let’s go around the world of college football as camp gets under way:

Hurts Meets with Media

In two seasons at Alabama, junior quarterback Jalen Hurts has led the Crimson Tide to two National Championship Games. The first time it was Deshaun Watson who snatched victory from Alabama, while it was backup Tua Tagovailoa who led the Tide to their comeback overtime win over Georgia last season.

That result led to many questions…including who would be Alabama’s quarterback in 2018? And if it’s Tagovailoa, as many presumed, how long would it take for Hurts to transfer?

Many have tried to answer those questions, except for maybe the most important person, Hurts himself. Until now.

“The funniest thing about all of it is I’ve never said a thing,” Hurts said at Alabama’s media day, “I kept my mouth closed, didn’t say anything to anyone. In regard to people believing the things that are said, it’s hard to believe someone when the No. 1 source didn’t say anything.”

One of the people to speak for Hurts was his father Averion back in April.

“Well, he’d be the biggest free agent in college football history,” the elder Hurts said to Matt Hayes of the Bleacher Report when asked what his son would do if he wasn’t the starter at Alabama.

Coach Nick Saban surprised everyone with his response when he was asked at SEC Media Days if Hurts would still be on the roster when the Tide played Louisville on Week 1.

“Well, I have no idea,” Saban answered. “I expect him to be there. I think it’s our job to give both players a very fair opportunity to have a chance to win the team at their position. I think that one of the two guys—obviously, both are capable. We’ll create a role for one or both of those guys on our team, and they’ll all have to make a decision based on what that outcome is as to what their future is at Alabama.”

How did those comments sit with Hurts?

“I was kind of shocked that he said that,” the quarterback told reporters.

He told Saban following those comments that he plans to be at Alabama for 2018 and to graduate in December.

“There was never a decision needed to be made with regard to me leaving,” Hurts added. “That was something the general media placed on me. It was something I never said.”

From his words to the media, it’s clear Hurts wanted an opportunity to make clear to everyone where he stood regarding the position battle. An opportunity to speak for himself.

“It’s just always been the elephant in the room, and it’s like, for me, no one came up to me the whole spring, coaches included,” Hurts continued. “No one asked me how I felt. No one asked me what was on my mind. No one asked me about how I felt about the things that were going on. Nobody asked me what my future held, and that’s that. So now it’s like, when we try and kind of handle the situation now, for me, it’s kind of late. It’s too late. The narrative has already been created.”

It appears there was a failure to communicate at Alabama.

While Saban wants to point towards the media for creating a quarterback controversy, the reality is ‘Bama has two starting caliber quarterbacks, neither of whom wants to spend the season holding a clipboard. Nothing could be done about that but without putting words in Hurts’s mouth, it sounds like the quarterback believes the situation could have been handled better.

2018 to Be Murray's Final Season at OU

A day after Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley hinted 2018 might not be quarterback Kyler Murray’s final season in Norman, agent Scott Boras responded on Saturday.

"Kyler's baseball career has a very defined path which includes playing football at OU for only the 2018 season," Boras said in an interview with The Athletic.

A two-sport star, Murray was drafted in the first round by the Oakland A’s in June. As the ninth overall pick, the Sooner signed a contract that included a $4.66 million signing bonus.

The star outfield hopes to shine on the gridiron this season but has yet to win the starting job at Oklahoma, as he battles with Austin Kendall. The talented dual-threat does have the edge, as well as the benefit of experience, which is why most believe he’ll be the starter when the Sooners take on Florida Atlantic on September 1.

"Well, I'm not gonna really ... decide how I want to handle that," was Riley’s response when asked if knowing this is Murray’s final season in college impacts the mindset. "We'll see if it's his final year. That hasn't really been determined yet. I'm not worried about it if it is or if it isn't. That's gonna have no impact on this year.

"My hope through this whole thing is that Kyler is gonna be able to do what he wants to do. If he wants to go play baseball after this year, then we'll wish him well and be happy for him. But the ball's gonna be in his court, which is where it should be."

When Murray signed with the A’s, the belief was the Sooners would get no more than one more season from the talented quarterback and barring a major shift in mindset, that will be the case.

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards.

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