Why Did Jalen Hurts Leave Alabama? Revisiting QB’s Benching for Tua Tagovailoa

Jalen Hurts' time in Alabama is one of the most interesting football stories in recent memory. We turn back the clock to his arc in Tuscaloosa.

The Alabama Crimson Tide are really known for two things — winning National Championships and having an insane amount of talent on their roster. The two go hand-in-hand with each other, but no case drives home the point more than when the Tide had both Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa on the roster.

The dynamic quarterbacks are at the helm for two of the most prolific offenses in the NFL — and both have their teams as the two of the best in the entire league.

However, before their time carving up NFL defenses on Sunday, they were two men fighting for one spot in Tuscaloosa. A situation that saw Hurts end up leaving Alabama altogether, sparking a unique situation that laid the groundwork for both of their NFL careers.

Why Did Jalen Hurts Leave Alabama?

The night that changed everything came against the Georgia Bulldogs in the National Championship game in 2017. Weeks prior, before reaching the big game, the Tide suffered a loss to their bitter rival Auburn. Coupled with the emergence of then-freshman Tua Tagovailoa, the rumblings around the quarterback position for the Crimson Tide had officially begun.

MORE: Jalen Hurts vs. Tua Tagovailoa — Who Would You Rather Have?

It all came to a head at halftime against Georgia, where the Tide went into the half down 13-0 with Hurts not playing well as he was 3-of-8 for 21 yards in the air. Head coach Nick Saban would make a change in the third quarter to let Tua take over, a move that paid off as Alabama went on to win the game 26-23 as Tua hit DeVonta Smith streaking into the end zone to complete the comeback.

After Turning to Tua, There Was No Turning Back

The following season, Hurts’ junior year, he was officially the backup to Tua and was merely sprinkled in on packages throughout the season. Despite going 26-2 in his career — Hurts had officially lost his starting job.

Hurts would get redemption that season, however, as Alabama would once again meet Georgia, this time in the SEC Championship. Tua got injured that day, and Hurts replaced him and then led back-to-back touchdown drives in the second half and scored. Hurts scored the game-winning touchdown with 1:04 remaining, securing a 35-28 victory.

Following that performance, and probably long before that in his mind, Hurts decided to transfer and continued his career with the Oklahoma Sooners. Hurts became a Heisman Trophy finalist after a sensational senior season under head coach Lincoln Riley.

Hurts went on to be drafted in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. The rest, as they would say, is history. A move by a head coach that worked out beautifully for his program and changed the future of two star quarterbacks forever.

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