By JOHN ZENOR AP Sports Writer
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Some Alabama players kept an eye on former teammate Jalen Hurts’ debut as Oklahoma’s quarterback.
They came away pleased, but not really surprised.
Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban, meanwhile, said he didn’t get to watch the fourth-ranked Sooners’ 49-31 romp over Houston Sunday night.
“I didn’t see the game last night. We work on Sunday nights,” Saban said Monday. “But I hear he played extremely well and did an outstanding job, and that doesn’t surprise me in the least bit. And we’re really happy for him, not only in the way he handled himself throughout this entire process, but now that he’s having success as well.”
Hurts was a two-year starter for the Tide, who lost his job to 2018 Heisman Trophy runner-up Tua Tagovailoa. He endeared himself to Alabama fans and teammates by staying put throughout last season instead of jumping ship to preserve a second year of eligibility.
Then he became a huge college football free agent as a graduate transfer, and had a monster Oklahoma debut. Hurts completed 20 of 23 passes for 332 yards and gained another 176 yards on the ground.
Tide cornerback Trevon Diggs talked to Hurts before that first game in Norman.
“He was excited to play, happy to play,” Diggs said. “I feel like he showed up.”
Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy watched the game from his room.
“I’m happy for him. He did a great job, both passing and running,” Jeudy said. “Six touchdowns, that’s unbelievable. But that’s what Jalen does, so I’m very happy for him.”
Hurts staying at Alabama through the season paid huge dividends for the Tide. He came off the bench to replace an injured Tagovailoa and lead a comeback win over Georgia in the Southeastern Conference championship game.
“I think that Jalen set a great example when he was here, when he was a player,” Saban said. “He was a good leader. He was a good performer. And I also think when things didn’t go his way he showed a lot of character as a person to continue to try to improve himself and do everything he could to help his team.
“And in this day and age you don’t often see that.”
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