For the third consecutive season, the Alabama Crimson Tide are playing for the College Football Playoff National Championship. And for the second year in-a-row, the Tide will lean on youngster, Jalen Hurts, as quarterback, to help win their 17th national title in school history.
Hurts, 19, took over the starting role in the second game of the 2016 season after Blake Barnett's early season struggles. Since then, Alabama's offense has thrived with Hurts under center.Although, he did have some fundamental adjustments as a freshman, he's cleaned up his mechanics and is playing for a national trophy once again.
Bama defeated Clemson in the Peach Bowl on New Year's Day, getting payback from last season in the process, and now takes on SEC rival Georgia for the CFP trophy in Atlanta on Monday. Both teams have a chip on their shoulder, as they both fell to Auburn University during the regular season.
As the rivals prepare for kickoff, here are six things you should know about No. 2.
Hurts is the sixth black starting quarterback in Tide history
He's also only the second African-American signal caller since 2001, and he became Alabama's third true freshman to start under center last season.
The Texas native is on a short list of Alabama greats, which includes Blake Sims (2011-2014, two time National Champion, two time SEC Champion), Andrew Zow (1998-2001, threw for 5,983 yards and 35 touchdowns), Danny Woodson (started during the 1990 and 1991 seasons), Vince Sutton (1984-1988, was the Tide's second true freshman starting quarterback), and Walter Lewis (1981-1983, Bama's first African-American starting quarterback who went on to play in the USFL).
He was a highly rated prospect coming out of school
Before donning the famed numbered helmet of the Crimson Tide, Hurts made one heck of an impression in high school. His football career began at Channelview High School in Houston, Texas where his father was his head coach. As a senior in 2015, he accounted for 3,775 total yards and 51 combined touchdowns. This earned him the No. 1 ranking among duel-threat quarterback prospects by 247Sports.
He has accomplished a lot in a short amount of time
Hurts has already made two College Football Playoff appearances, he'll be playing in his second CFP title game, he has an SEC Western Division title, an SEC conference title, he was last year's SEC Freshman of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year, and he was awarded the Offensive Most Valuable Player award for this year's Peach Bowl after dispatching of Clemson. He's thrown for 4,840 yards, he's rushed for an additional 1,762, and has accounted for 61 total touchdowns. Expect him to be in the Heisman conversation next season.
The third Bama QB to play in back-to-back national championship games
This list is even shorter as the only other players to accomplish this feat are the aforementioned Sims (2012 and 2013) and A.J. McCarron (2011 and 2012). The only thing separating Hurts from these two athletes is that he has yet to win a national championship.
Football runs in his family
In Texas, football is practically an organized religion and family plays a big part in that. Aside from being coached by his father, Jalen's older brother Averion played at Texas Southern in 2015 and 2016. Like Jalen, he is also a duel-threat quarterback who accumulated 3,252 total yards and 32 combined touchdowns in a TSU Tigers uniform. As the old saying goes, "The family that plays together, stays together."
Jalen isn't very active on social media
Most athletes these days are big proponents of social media, especially from a promotional standpoint, as it helps to get them exposure. College athletes are no different. But Hurts, however, doesn't seem to be a regular social media user…Despite having over 50,000 followers, Hurts' Twitter account has only put out 43 tweets and 125 likes. His account also only shows three pictures and three videos. He also has 153,000 followers on Instagram, but has only posted on that account a total of 23 times.
The world will be watching as Hurts looks to add to his legacy on Monday night.