What begins as Tanking for Tua could end as Hurling for Hurts.
New Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts, who transferred from Alabama to Oklahoma after seeing Tua Tagovailoa take control the starting job in Tuscaloosa, had a stellar debut on Sunday night against the University of Houston.
Yes, the Houston defense stinks. Hurts nevertheless put together, as noted by Kevin Neghandi of ESPN, more yards in his first game as the starter than 2018 Heisman winner and 2019 first overall NFL draft pick Kyler Murray generated in any game last year. Murray’s maximum was 478 yards; Hurts had 508: 332 passing yards (completing 20 of 23 throws) and 176 rushing yards. Hurts had three touchdowns through the air, and three more on the ground.
Hurts’ 508-yard performance also shattered 2017 Heisman winner and 2018 first overall NFL draft pick Baker Mayfield‘s program record of 396 yards in a Sooner debut.
None of this means that Hurts will be angling for the first overall pick in the draft by the time April rolls around, but if Hurts continues to tear it up against defenses with more teeth than the toothless Cougars, it wouldn’t be the first time that the perceived top pick when the college football season begins changes by the time the college football season ends. And if Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley can produce his third straight Heisman winner and his third straight No. 1 overall pick in the draft, how long will it be until an NFL team gives him a blank check to have that same kind of impact at the next level?