08/20 20:20 CDT Oklahoma QB Hurts barely edges out Mordecai, Rattler for job
Oklahoma QB Hurts barely edges out Mordecai, Rattler for job
By CLIFF BRUNT
AP Sports Writer
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) --- Jalen Hurts' rise to the starting quarterback position
at Oklahoma wasn't a foregone conclusion, despite his wealth of championship
experience at Alabama.
Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley took his time before naming Hurts the starter for
the fourth-ranked Sooners' Sept. 1 season opener against Houston. Though Hurts
played in three national championship games for Alabama and helped the Crimson
Tide win the 2017 national title, Riley said he wanted to see how Hurts would
adjust to a new system after he transferred to Oklahoma in January .
Hurts barely won the job over redshirt freshman Tanner Mordecai and true
freshman Spencer Rattler. Hurts didn't clinch the job until Riley reviewed a
"I just thought he was just slightly better here as it went on," Riley said.
"Probably the closest one (quarterback race) since I've been around."
Hurts started the 2016 and 2017 seasons and led Alabama to a 26-2 record. He
lost the starting job to Tua Tagovailoa in 2018 but still played in 13 games.
He replaced the injured Tagovailoa in the fourth quarter of the 2018 SEC
championship game and rallied the Crimson Tide to a 35-28 win over Georgia.
Hurts has the numbers to go with the wins. He owns the Alabama quarterback
career record with 23 rushing touchdowns and ranks second in school history
among quarterbacks with 1,976 career rushing yards and 71 touchdowns
responsible for. He gained 7,602 yards of total offense and threw for 48
touchdowns, both third in Alabama history.
Riley said Hurts' experience didn't factor into his decision, but it may have
helped him when things got tough during camp.
"Just the overall feel of how it progressed," Riley said. "Honestly, all three
of them had days where they were the best quarterback. Jalen just had a few
more. His down days where maybe he wasn't his best were better than the other
two right now at this point."
Hurts will now follow back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners Baker Mayfield and
Kyler Murray. Hurts has said that was never a concern for him.
"I've had the same approach since I got here --- to be the best quarterback I
can be," Hurts said earlier in the month. "All that other stuff is what y'all
want to talk about."
Riley said the future looks bright with Mordecai and Rattler. Mordecai, the No.
2 quarterback, was rated a four-star recruit by ESPN and a three-star prospect
by 247Sports and Rivals. Rattler, a true freshman, is the No. 3 quarterback. He
was the consensus No. 1 quarterback in the 2019 recruiting class. He passed for
an Arizona state record 11,083 yards and ran for more than 1,000 during his
"Tanner Mordecai did a phenomenal job," Riley said. "Made a lot of big plays
during camp. Spencer Rattler showed control and playmaking ability that's
pretty rare for someone his age."
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