It was tough getting benched. I didn't have to talk with Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts to know it hurt. Nor did I need to see an interview to know that this was not his desired outcome. And yet, for those of us who paid any attention to this Alabama football team in 2018, we know there were two primary stories. First, of course, was the absolute domination of the Crimson Tide against nearly all their opponents. During the regular season, only The Citadel (!) gave them a real fight.
Second, and the one that even an Auburn fan will appreciate, is the way Jalen Hurts handled his new role with the Tide. And for that, Hurts is being honored by an organization called the National League of Junior Cotillions as one of the Top 10 Best-Mannered People of 2018. Hurts won "for demonstrating exemplary character through a challenging transition."
During last year's National Championship game, things didn't go so well for Hurts. The Tide struggled against a very good Georgia Bulldog team; and Nick Saban finally made the call to his bench. Tua Tagavailoa came on for Hurts, and the rest is history. Alabama won the title, and Tua kept the starting job for the 2018 season.
Jalen Hurts could have transferred out and taken a starting job elsewhere. And in fact, another quarterback who'd committed to Alabama did just that. Gardner Minshew de-commited from the Tide when Washington State came calling with an offer he couldn't refuse: sit on the bench at Alabama "or lead the nation in passing." Minshew was a legit Heisman Trophy candidate for the Cougs in 2018.
So Jalen Hurts, who would have been ahead of Minshew on the depth chart, was going to get offers. He could have started nearly anywhere. Instead, he stuck around. In the SEC Championship Game, he got a shot at redemption. Tua wasn't having a great game for Alabama. The team was struggling. Lance Crawford and I were wondering if maybe Hurts should come in.
Eventually, Tua Tagavailoa came out with an injury. Jalen Hurts came in, literally saved the day for the Tide, and became one of those great college football stories you remember forever.
Jalen Hurts joins some good company on a list on which any mother would be proud to find their child included. They are entertainment figures like Will Smith and Ed Sheeran; and sports figures like Saints QB Drew Brees, who topped the list "for exemplary conduct both on and off the field and outstanding contributions to families in need through the Brees Dream Foundation."
[Thumbnail Image via Twitter: Maria Martin/WSFA12]