Here is what Jalen Hurts did as a true freshman quarterback for Alabama in 2017:

**–Completed 62.8 percent of his passes with 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He averaged 7.3 yards per completion.

**–Helped lead Alabama from a 24-3 deficit to win 48-43 at Ole Miss.

**–Went into a very hostile atmosphere at LSU where he scored the only touchdown in a 10-0 win.

**–With 3,734 total yards (2,780 passing, 954 rushing) Hurts was the SEC offensive player of the year and the first-team All-SEC quarterback.

**–He was 13-1 as a starter with an SEC championship. He was 1 second away from being 14-0 with a national championship.

And there are still people out there who wonder if Jalen Hurts is going to be Alabama’s starting quarterback for the entire 2017 season.

Seriously?

Yes. Seriously.

To those folks I would simply say this:  Don’t doubt this guy. This kid flat out knows how to play.

Yes, he did struggle throwing the ball in the final three games of the 2016 season,  completing only 31 of 65 passes (47.7 percent). But I would also point out that those numbers came against the No. 5 (Florida), No. 8 (Clemson) and No. 12 (Washington) defenses in the country.

Yes, there is a talented freshman in Tua Tagovailova who can do a lot of things. He definitely has the “wow factor” and showed it in the spring game.

But let me put it to you as simply as I know how: He ain’t beating out a healthy Jalen Hurts.

Listen to Nick Saban:

“You know, offensively, this is the first time that we’ve had a returning starter at quarterback since 2013 (AJ McCarron), which creates the opportunity for that guy to develop in the things that he needs to do better, which Jalen has done a good job in the offseason of becoming a better passer, understanding the passing game better.”

There it is. After starting three different quarterbacks (Blake Sims, Jacob Coker, Jaylen Hurts) in three consecutive years Alabama finally has a chance to DEVELOP a quarterback and help him get better.

And in new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Saban is convinced he has the guy to coach his quarterbacks up. Daboll worked with some guy named Brady during his most recent assignment with the New England Patriots. I hear that he is pretty good.

“I think he’s a very, very good quarterback coach,” Saban said of Daboll on Saturday when Alabama had its media day. “I think he’s helped Jalen mentally. I think he’s got a better understanding and confidence, especially in the passing game, of what he needs to do and what’s expected of him. I see a lot of improvement from that standpoint.”

In a private meeting with Saban last Spring, he was very candid about his first meetings with Daboll, who replaced Lane Kiffin, and what his expectations would be.

“I felt we got completely away from the pro style passing game—with play action passes,” Saban said. “We didn’t do a good job of developing the quarterback as a passer.”

Hurts met with the media after Alabama’s first practice. He was asked about the doubters and if, because of them, he’s now playing with a bit of a chip on his shoulder.

“I don’t listen to anything that’s said,” he told the media. “Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. Kudos to them. All we can do is improve.”

And as for last season, when he came so close to perfection?

“That chapter is over,” he said. “Now it’s time to write a new chapter.

Spoken like a true coach’s son. I’ll say it again. Don’t doubt this guy.

 

Why do people still doubt Jalen Hurts?

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About The Author
- Tony Barnhart, known as "Mr. College Football," is an analyst for The SEC Network.

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