Jalen Hurts breaks two tackles on the play of the night (Photo by Stuart McNair)

Two freshmen will challenge last year’s freshman sensation in Alabama spring football

Seventh in a series looking at Alabama positions prior to spring practice

If, if, if. If Bo Scarbrough had not suffered a broken leg. If a couple of passes had been thrown a little better, or a couple of passes that were thrown well had not been dropped. If the defense could have held on for just a couple more minutes.
If any or all of those things had happened in last year’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game, we might be remembering Jalen Hurts as the man who ran 30 yards to give Alabama a 31-28 win over Clemson and a 15-0 season. We’d be remembering that Jalen Hurts was not only All-Southeastern Conference in his freshman season, but he was also SEC Offensive Player of the Year.
We’d be discussing where Jalen Hurts — Freshman All-America last year — should be in the Heisman Trophy picture going into his second Crimson Tide season.
Instead, as we approach the start of Bama spring practice, this part of the series looking at all Alabama positions has to consider that Hurts (6-2, 209) can have the same thing happen to him that he did to others in 2016.
Hurts entered The University in the spring semester in order to participate in practice. It was a different field a year ago with three older men — Cooper Bateman, Blake Barnett, and David Cornwell — all on the depth chart above Hurts. Hurts didn’t win the job in the spring, but he put himself in the picture and before the end of the season-opening win against Southern Cal, he had taken over the starting job. Bateman, Barnett, and Cornwell all could still be a part of Alabama’s football team, but all have transferred out.
While leading the Tide to a 14-1 record, Hurts completed 240 of 382 passes (62.89 per cent) for 2,780 yards and 23 touchdowns against 9 interceptions and rushed 191 times for 954 yards (5.0 yards per carry) and 13 touchdowns.
But Hurts was not at his best in the championship stretch. Did the distraction of Lane Kiffin trying to continue as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach while also trying to be the new head coach at FAU have anything to do with it? Hurts had only a week with Kiffin’s replacement, Steve Sarkisian, for the CFP title game.
Regardless, Hurts will have competition this spring, and Alabama has a new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in recently-hired Brian Daboll from the New England Patriots.
Almost everyone expects Hurts to have the biggest battle from Tua Tagovailoa (6-1, 215). It is likely that more Tide fans can recite his credentials than pronounce his last name (tongue-oh-vie-uh-low-uh).
Tagovailoa, 6-1, 215, entered The University in January after a star-studded career both at St. Louis School in Ewa Beach, Hawaii, and on the all-star circuit. He was MVP of both The Opening and the Elite 11 quarterback competition prior to last season and participated in the US Army All-America Bowl. Scout ranked him the nation’s No. 1 dual threat quarterback.
He finished his prep career with 8,158 passing yards, the most in Hawaii high school football history, and 84 touchdowns. He also had 1,727 yards and 27 TDs in his high school career. He led his team to the state championship in his senior season with 3,932 yards and 43 TDs.
Incidentally, he broke records held by former St. Louis  School quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Tagovailoa isn’t the only true freshman quarterback in the competition. Mac Jones, 6-2, 185, entered The University for its Spring Semester II, which began a few weeks after the regular spring semester start.
Jones played for one of the top private school programs in Florida, the Bolles School in Jacksonville, and for the most renowned prep coach in the Sunshine State, Corky Rogers. Jones was ranked the No. 4 quarterback in Florida.
He led Bolles to the state championship game as a senior as he passed for 1,532 yards and 29 touchdowns. As a junior he passed for 2,150 yards and 26 TDs.
He participated in the Elite 11 quarterback competition and was selected to play in the for the U.S. Under-19 National Team against Canada.
A walk-on would be considered the longest shot to be in the Alabama quarterback competition this spring, but it’s worth noting that sophomore Montana Murphy (6-3, 201) came out of that quarterback factory, Carroll High School in Southlake, Texas.
Although a starting date for Alabama spring practice has not yet been announced, it is expected to begin after the completion of The University’s spring break, which is March 11-19. The A-Day Game will be April 22.


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