TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — University of Alabama coach Nick Saban had some high praise for one of his players on Wednesday evening, junior quarterback Jalen Hurts.
"I think Jalen has been very professional about the way he's sorta handled the situation he's in," Saban said. "I've said it's a unique situation. Nobody's ever been in this situation before, win 26 games here and now all of a sudden somebody else is playing. But what he has done is he's worked every day to try and 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 possible as we can."
Sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has started all four game for he Crimson Tide and leads the nation is passer rating.
He also hasn't attempted a fourth-quarter pass yet as Hurts has also played in each game.
"He deserves to play," Saban said. "He's a good player and there might 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 to his character to stick with his teammates, be a par of his team, finish the season.
"I've always said how much respect I have for both the guys. How you handle things when you're in a difficult situation I think speaks volumes of who you are. The one thing we're all going to have in life is we're gonna have a lot of problems. Life is difficult. How you handle the problems is the one thing that you can control. I think this is certainly an obstacle that will help him be more successful in the future and the way he's handled is certainly going to help him handle issues and problems that we all have in our lives in the future."
Per a new NCAA rule players can play up to four games and still redshirt, which some veterans are using to save a year of eligibility and transfer.
Quarterback Kelly Bryant, who started against Hurts and Alabama in last season's Sugar Bowl, a 24-6 victory for the Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff semifinal, is the latest high-profile player to announce he was transferring since the season started.
Other notable named include defensive back John Broussard, wide receiver Nate Craig-Myers, Tight end Jalen Harris and defensive back Jayvaughn Myers all from Auburn.
Also looking for new places to play are running back Taj Griffin from Oregon, running back Adarius Lemons from Florida, wide receiver Jalen McCleskey from Oklahoma State, quarterback Devon Modster form UCLA and wide receiver Jonathan Nance from Arkansas.
Alabama hasn't had a player transfer since fall camp opened in early August. It's last two recruiting class are also nearly intact, including the highly-regarded Class of 2017.
Saban was also asked about the attention that players get as recruits, and their potential effects.
"It's almost unfair in a way," he said. "I know that seems probably seems unreasonable for me to say, but a lot of these guys get a lot of positive self-gratification from the attention that they get, and that's great. But when it sets an expectation and a standard for what they think they ought to be able to accomplish and how soon they should be able to do that and they lose the focus on 'What do I have to do to be a good player rather than be frustrated that I'm not playing?' Because those things don't work in a very positive way for someone.
"When you have tremendously high expectations for when you come in and you're not focused on what you need to do to be a good player, learn your position so you can be a complete player at your position, then you struggle and you have issues and you get frustrated because you feel like you're not meeting the standard and the expectation that somebody else created for you. It takes a lot of maturity for guys to do that. We've had some guys here that have been able to do it and done it very well and I'm happy that they get a lot of positive self-gratification for what they do and the quality of players that they are. But to keep that in perspective and be real about what you have to do to continue to progress as a player. Just like every player that leaves here has to go be a complete player at the next level. Every player that comes here has to learn how to play at this level. As long as that attention doesn't affect their ability to do that, I think it's great."