TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The biggest moment of Alabama’s game against Louisiana may not have been when the Crimson Tide scored a touchdown or even had a big gain on Saturday.
It may have been when junior quarterback Jalen Hurts was inserted into the game late in the first quarter.
Hurts, who lost the starting quarterback to Tua Tagovailoa, has played in all five Alabama games this season which means he’s no longer eligible to redshirt.
Although the quarterback never gave any indication that he might do so this season, speculation has been rampant since Tagovailoa led the Crimson Tide’s comeback against Georgia in the National Championship Game in January.
With the new NCAA rule regarding redshirting, Hurts, the 2016 SEC Offensive Player of the Year, could have opted not to play and after the season ended left as a graduate transfer with two years of eligibility remaining.
The 20-year-old can still transfer, but now with just one year remaining.
“I think Jalen has been very, very professional about the way he's sort of handled the situation he's in,” Nick Saban said earlier this week. “I've said it's a unique situation. Nobody's every been in this situation before. He won 26 games here and then all of a sudden somebody else is playing. But what he has done is he's worked every day to try to get better. He's focusing on improving and the value he can get from this season because we're going to play him as much as we possibly can. He deserves to play.
“There may be a time in the future where he becomes the guy if something happens. We're not hoping for that narrative, certainly. But I think it speaks volumes of his character to stick with his teammates, be a part of his team, finish the season.”
All indications are that Hurts will do exactly that.
Hurts came into the game 22-for-31 (71.0 percent) for 276 yards and four touchdowns, for a passer rating of 181.88. The rating is fourth in the league and he has more touchdown passes than Auburn starter Jarrett Stidham and LSU's Joe Burrow.
He was 4-for-6 for 118 yards with one touchdown as the Crimson Tide threw for 340 yards and four touchdowns.