Norman, Oklahoma – The year was 1985 and the team was the Oklahoma Sooners. After sophomore quarterback Troy Aikman broke his leg, true freshman Jamelle Holieway took over the quarterback responsibilities. Behind a defense led by Brian Bosworth, Oklahoma defeated Penn State in the Orange Bowl by a score of 25-10. Fast forward to 2016. At the beginning of the season, it was redshirt freshman Blake Barnett who was under center in the starting role. Against Western Kentucky on September 10th, Hurts became the first true freshman to start at quarterback for Alabama since 1984 (Mike Shula). In that game, Hurts completed 23 of 36 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns without an interception in a 38-10 victory over Western Kentucky. The starting quarterback discussion was officially over.
Today, Barnett, along with reserve quarterback David Cornwell, are gone and Hurts remains. Since he has taken over as quarterback, Hurts has been named the SEC Offensive Player of The Year, Freshman All-American by USA Today and ESPN, SEC honors from both the coaches and the AP, SEC Freshman of the Year by coaches, SEC Newcomer of the Year by the AP, finalist for the Manning Award, finalist for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, semifinalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year, semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award, and is included on the Manning Award Watch List.
In an AP telephone interview, Jamelle Holieway was asked about his thoughts on Hurts. Holieway said, “It’s amazing that he has the same initials. It’s amazing that he’s a true freshman. And three, black. So we’ve got three things going.” Tonight, Hurts will have the opportunity to have one more thing in common with Holieway as he takes the field against Clemson, a College Football Playoff National Championship. At that time, the true freshman will become a true champion. Roll Tide.