Quarterback transfers are the new norm in college football. Loyalty certainly isn’t on the same level it was in decades past, but many would argue there are good reasons for some of these players to transfer. Take the Ohio State quarterback situation: Tate Martell was with the Buckeyes for two years, only to have 2018’s top recruit, former Georgia quarterback Justin Fields, transfer to the school. Martell could have stayed and competed (and Fields might not even be granted eligibility in 2019), but he’s transferring to Miami to ensure he’s not buried on the depth chart his entire college career.
Then there’s the Jalen Hurts situation. The former SEC Offensive Player of the Year for Alabama stayed with the school last season despite Tua Tagovailoa being pretty much locked in as the starter after his national title game heroics. Hurts was truly an exceptional, exemplary teammate all season, and he came up big when his number was called in the SEC Championship victory over Georgia. He’ll never be forgotten in Crimson Tide lore, and now no one can blame him for going to another school to be a starter for his final college season as a graduate transfer. Many programs would love to add Hurts at quarterback, but these are the five to keep an eye on as he makes his decision.
There’s been a lot of smoke surrounding Hurts transferring to Maryland, and the Terps are currently the betting favorites to land the former Alabama star. Maryland’s new head coach is Mike Locksley, who was the co-offensive coordinator for Alabama in 2017 before taking over the full OC duties in 2018, makes it easy to connect the dots for a transfer. Locksley is someone Hurts is familiar with, and that familiarity will make a transition into a new program and an offense with new players easier and more comfortable. Hurts probably wants to win, though, and Maryland might not be ready to compete in the Big Ten even in a potential down year for the conference.
He might not be guaranteed the starting job for the Sooners, but if Hurts wants to go somewhere that a national championship is realistically within reach, Norman is probably the place to go. The last two Heisman Trophy winners have come in Lincoln Riley’s offense, and Hurts has the dual-threat ability—along with improvement as a passer as displayed during his final season at Alabama—to run the explosive attack at a high level. Baker Mayfield was the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft when he came out, and Kyler Murray looks like he’ll be a first-rounder, too, so Oklahoma would also be a good spot for his professional future.
Again, Tate Martell isn’t eligible to play until 2020 because he’s transferring as an undergraduate, so this would be great for the Hurricanes if they could get Jalen Hurts for 2019 before potentially turning things over to Martell the next season. Hurts already took a visit to the Hurricanes (and he follows coach Manny Diaz on Twitter), so there looks to be definite interest. Also, Miami offensive coordinator Dan Enos was Hurts’ quarterbacks coach with Alabama in 2018. This would hurt the development of redshirt freshman Jarren Williams, who apparently considered transferring but opted not to, but these quarterback situations can turn into musical chairs.
As stated earlier, Hurts will never be forgotten in Crimson Tide lore, but that would take a turn if he transferred to their bitter rival. Considering the faithfulness Hurts showed to Alabama, it doesn’t seem likely he chooses Auburn for his last college season. But, if underneath, he was bothered enough by losing his job with the Crimson Tide, a transfer to the Tigers and a crack at his former team in the Iron Bowl would make for an interesting storyline.
The Bruins are an under-the-radar place for Hurts, and they should receive strong consideration. Chip Kelly is going to get UCLA turned around at some point, and Hurts could accelerate that process as the trigger-man of a potent offense. UCLA has some dynamic players to work with, including running back Joshua Kelley, who is returning for his senior season after rushing for 1,243 yards in 11 games as a junior. Hurts and Kelley would form one of the better combos in the nation, while Kelly’s time in the NFL—in his first year back in college, he slowed down the offense a bit and did some things pro teams still want to see, like playing more under-center—would help Hurts if he continues his football career at the next level.