Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way now: Jalen Hurts will not be Oklahoma’s next Heisman winner; it’s just not happening. Oklahoma fans are excited as their next quarterback has played a pivotal role in the last three College Football Playoffs. A product of the Crimson Tide, Jalen Hurts has come up clutch, time and time again for his team; but the rising of superstar Tua Tagovailoa has forced him to look for a new team to call his own. Oklahoma made sense for multiple reasons: the last two Heisman winners have come from there and they have also competed at a high level in their conference for quite some time (also they played in the last two College Football Playoffs). People all across America have fallen in love with Hurts’ loyalty to his team after being upended from his starting role and sticking around during a time when the transfer market mid-season is at an all time high. However, as good as Hurts has been, will he live up to the hype and lead the Sooners to a third consecutive playoff appearance? Truth be told, it is unlikely for a multitude of reasons.
Lincoln Riley has had success grooming his quarterbacks into Heisman caliber guys. Jalen Hurts has had his Heisman campaign at ‘Bama but couldn’t put the pieces together to win. One could argue that there is so much talent at running back and around him as a whole during his time in Tuscaloosa that it is harder for him to stand out and make a statement. However, Tua looked to be the Heisman winner for this past season until a sub-par performance during his conference championship. Jalen had three years to capitalize on the talent around him to make a run for college football’s most prestigious award. The Big 12 isn’t known for defense like the SEC and Jalen will have talent around him once again to try and impress the voters, but let’s not jump the gun and proclaim him to be the next Heisman winner.
The last two Heisman winners for Oklahoma led the Sooners to fourth and fifth consecutive conference championship wins and a run at the College Football Playoffs. The conference overall has been watered down for quite some time with no real threat to the Sooners dominance until recently. Texas is claiming to be back and was able to knock off Oklahoma in the regular season before losing in the championship. The team returns a lot of talent and will be ready to rival the Sooners once again and come with vengeance. Jalen shall have his hands full as Oklahoma does not have a strong defense. Throughout his career, Hurts has been criticized for his inconsistency when throwing the football. If he struggles early, it is going to be hard for him to do enough to bring his team back from behind.
A team with a porous defense does not usually make the playoffs. The Sooners were able to thanks to the most efficient season by a quarterback in NCAA history; same thing was said the previous year when Baker Mayfield set the record. That means, if Hurts wants to lead this team to a playoff, he’ll have to put together his most efficient passing season that he has ever had; a tall task for the young man. The bar has been set extremely high for Hurts and his new team, but fans must have realistic expectations for him as well. It’s not unlikely to see him make enough plays to make it back to the conference championship, but let us let Jalen write his own narrative and not be so quick to expect him to be the next greatest thing.