Quarterback Jalen Hurts, jumping from Alabama to Oklahoma, will be one of the most intriguing grad transfers of the 2019 season.
But as he tries to follow in the quarterback footsteps of the past two Heisman winners — Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray — he will first have to navigate his first spring camp with the Sooners, beginning on Thursday.
“Within our walls, Jalen is just like any other player,” coach Lincoln Riley said at a press conference Wednesday.
“He’s got a great skill set. He’s done a nice job acclimating to our players, to our staff, to Norman. He’s handled it all well. But he’s in a battle. He knows that, our team knows that. That is just part of how we are always going to do it here.”
Hurts is widely expected to win the job, but the Sooners will also get a good look at redshirt freshman Tanner Mordecai over 15 spring practices. He is a former four-star dual-threat quarterback from Texas.
“He and Tanner are both doing a nice job,” Riley said of Hurts.
“We’ll obviously get to see more once we get on the field tomorrow. You feel them both stepping up. Just in the time we’re able to meet with them now, you feel the sense of urgency in the meeting room from them both. Both are inexperienced guys within this system right now, and you feel them really pushing hard to get better.
“They can both do everything you need to do to play the position well. … The competition will be great.”
Hurts was a two-year starter at Alabama, going 26-2 and helping the Crimson Tide win the 2017 national championship, although he was replaced at halftime of the title game against Georgia as Tua Tagovailoa led a comeback in an overtime victory.
Tagovailoa won the camp battle to be the 2018 starter, but Hurts stuck around and cemented his place in Alabama lore when he came off the bench to lead another Crimson Tide comeback against Georgia, this time in the SEC title game.
In his three seasons at Alabama, Hurts threw for 5,626 yards with 48 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He added 1,976 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns.
Five-star recruit Spencer Rattler arrives at Oklahoma in the summer.
“Jalen has been through a lot, which will do nothing but help Tanner and the rest of the guys in our room,” Riley said.
“And that’s a big deal. I know we’ve had big names and guys who have done a lot in this sport over the last few years, but we’ve always had a competitive room … and they also supported and helped each other. I suspect we will have that again.”