Alabama hero Tua Tagovailoa sends strong message to critics of Jalen Hurts


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Tua Tagovailoa may have become a hero by rescuing Alabama in the College Football Playoff national championship game, but the freshman quarterback made sure to give credit to the man who got the Crimson Tide to that position.

That man is Jalen Hurts, who led Alabama to a 12-1 record as a starter prior to the title game and before he was replaced by Tagovailoa.

Many have focused only on Hurts’ poor first-half performance in the game and ignored what he did prior to that. As a result, some have called for Hurts to transfer or switch positions in order to cede the starting role to Tagovailoa.

Ever the humble one, Tagovailoa shot down any criticisms of Hurts in a Twitter post.

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Tagovailoa wrote that “all the fans that are against Jalen, you against me too. You either WITH US or AGAINST US.”

Hurts was clearly moved by the message as he responded with a tweet of his own — his first in nine months:

Tagovailoa then responded to Hurts by labeling him the GOAT (greatest of all time):

The close relationship between the two was apparent when Tagovailoa threw his first touchdown pass of the game. Hurts was the first one on the field to congratulate Tagovailoa for getting Alabama back into the game.

It’s pretty clear that Tagovailoa is the future starting quarterback for Alabama, so that leaves Hurts’ fate in doubt. Right after winning his sixth championship, coach Nick Saban was in no rush to make a decision about 2018.

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“Look, we have two good quarterbacks on our team, no doubt,” he told reporters. “I think that we haven’t really made a decision about that, and it’s not imperative we make one right now. We’ve got two fine young men who really respect each other and have worked hard to help each other all year long.”

In Saban’s 11 years at Alabama, he’s never gone with dual quarterbacks, instead choosing one outright starter. In fact, Tagovailoa’s 77 pass attempts in 2017 are the most an Alabama backup has ever thrown in a season under Saban.

You have to go back to Saban’s final season at LSU to find the last time he played two quarterbacks. Senior Marcus Randall threw 162 passes and was used as the dual-threat QB while redshirt freshman JaMarcus Russell threw 144 passes and was used as the pocket passer.

Saban has a few months to think about how his offense will operate next season, but it’s not out of the question that Hurts will make it easier on everyone. He could elect to change positions, as Ohio State’s Braxton Miller did when J.T. Barrett established himself as the starter, moving to wide receiver. Most NFL draft websites peg Hurts as a running back at the next level, so he could just switch spots in the backfield.

There’s also the possibility that Hurts could transfer if he is dead set on playing quarterback. It’s likely the man who recruited him to Tuscaloosa would welcome him at Florida Atlantic, as Lane Kiffin also spent time after the title game defending Hurts and his play.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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