Jalen Hurts: someone we can all look up to

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Aaron Suttles

“It’s not something you’re stuck in, it’s something you’re going through.”

The sporting world was introduced to the lefty Tua Tagovailoa when he dropped a 2018 New Years present into the bread basket of DeVonta Smith to win the National Championship. As the sea of confetti plastered each and every camera in the vicinity, the sudden changing of the guard might have gone unnoticed at the time, but it certainly did not fly under the radar once the cameras were back in action the next few days. Like gasoline to a fire, the uber amount of gossip and rumors led to one of the most publicized quarterback battles in college football history: Jalen Hurts versus Tua Tagovailoa. 

Picture by: Vasha Hunt. Tua and Jalen have both gone on to start in the NFL.

First, it was Hurts telling media members that he hadn’t heard from any Alabama coach over the offseason, then it was Hurts’ father proclaiming his son would be “the biggest free agent in college football history,” and finally it was Tua allegedly indicating to a group of Hawaiian kids at a camp that he would transfer to USC if he didn’t win the job. Even former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin got in on the media circus by denouncing Nick Saban’s treatment of Hurts. Even though the contest was definitely not just a dramatic soap opera, the better passer out of the two, Tua, came out victorious. 

Photo by: Ronald Martinez. Tua and Jalen got to share two moments of glory with each other.

Most players, especially ones who compile a 39-3 record over three years, would take the easier path and enter the transfer portal. However, Hurts decided to take the road less traveled by staying on campus in Tuscaloosa. He truly bit down on his mouthguard and said, “next play.” During his tenure as the backup quarterback, Hurts preached a quote that I will never forget.

“It’s not something you’re stuck in, it’s something you’re going through.”

This quote came to be my number one source of inspiration when I was at a low point in my young life. Once my Mom stuck it on the refrigerator, the rest was history. Every day that I was swimming in the treacherous waters of life, I would always open the refrigerator to get something to eat and then see the quote. All that I can say is that there’s nothing better than munching on an apple while you’re in the midst of pumping yourself up to a Jalen Hurts quote. I never would have thought that Jalen Hurts would be the person to supply me with such an impactful quote. Maybe someone like Gandhi or MLK—but not Hurts.

That “next play” mentality would come back to serve Hurts a plate of homemade redemption when he was catapulted into the starting job mid-game of the SEC Championship game against—the same team he was benched against the previous year—Georgia. Hurts went on to lead his team to a crucial win in the late minutes of the game by driving down the field on two separate occasions in what can only be described as a storybook ending to his Alabama career. In the span of a year, Hurts went from the guy on the sideline to the guy hoisting up the trophy in front of millions of viewers.

Considering that Hurts’ ultimate display of perseverance was worth it in the long run (he was a Heisman candidate after he transferred to Oklahoma and had his first NFL start and win for the Philadelphia Eagles last night), I think that everyone—not just athletes—can take a page out of his unique book. Not only did his mental toughness pay off in the long run, but it also proved that mental toughness is not just a coined term by ESPN; instead, it is a realistic rite of passage to the promised lands. In the end, I hope that whoever reads this understands the fact that “it’s not something you’re stuck in, it’s something you’re going through.”