A prominent college quarterback will be on the move and the question becomes whether Florida State, UCF or Miami will be interested? Alabama QB Jalen Hurts is apparently available for an NCAA transfer and could play immediately for a new school in 2019.
Jalen Hurts has followed one coach on Twitter since news broke that he’s in the NCAA portal … Miami’s Manny Diaz. The Hurricanes are obviously very interested. https://t.co/UeeTuC5wQs pic.twitter.com/uWbRbFGax6
— Andrew Ivins (@Andrew_Ivins) January 10, 2019
Hurts, who was the full-time starter for Alabama in 2016 and in 2017 was replaced in the 2018 College Football Playoff Championship game by true freshman Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa led the Tide to an overtime win and the title. And, he was eventually named the starter for the 2018 regular season.
Hurts was disgruntled and contemplated transferring before the 2018 regular season began, but he also realized it would not help him for playing anywhere else for 2018. Instead he waited for his time, playing as a backup to Tua, as Alabama progressed to the SEC Championship Game.
That’s when Tagovailoa was injured, Hurts replaced him (above) and played brilliantly in the second-half comeback win over the Bulldogs. That included Hurts throwing for the tying touchdown and running in the winning score, as Bama rallied for the SEC Championship.
However with a month off, Tua was healthy for the Orange Bowl and was back as the starter, as Alabama ripped Oklahoma and advanced again to the CFP Championship Game for the fourth consecutive year.
As you’re probably aware from this week, Clemson destroyed Alabama and Tua’s Championship hopes in a 40 – 16 rout on Monday night in California. The Tiger’s defense blitzed and batter Tagovailoa into interceptions and mistakes along the way shutting out the Tide in the entire second half.
Hurts only saw the field again, in “mop up duty” after that SEC Championship game, but now wants to see it as a starter, with a new school. He has graduated from Alabama and would eligible immediately.
And that brings us to two programs that could be very interested in his services. The first one is Florida State, who as we wrote on Monday, has starter Deondre Francois returning for another season. This is despite the fact that Francois had graduated and could have transferred or even turn pro to go to the NFL.
A negative for FSU is coach Willie Taggart nor new offensive coordinator Kendal briles have no specific connection to Hurts, but obviously the lure of playing at FSU and trying to help them return to credibility could be big.
The other logical school in the state that might be interested in Hurts is UCF. While quarterback Darriel Mack filled in admirably for the injrued McKenzie Milton at quarterback at the end of the regular season, in the American Conference Championship game and during the Fiesta Bowl loss to LSU, Mack is clearly not a polished passer. And, Hurts is much more proven and would be in position to help the Knights more quickly and effectively next September.
And there are the Miami Hurricanes, who have a new coach in Manny Diaz, and have yet to hire their offensive coordinator. Still, even with part time starter N’Kosi Perry coming back this fall, the Canes would have to be interested in Hurts. And as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald pointed out here:
Transferring Alabama QB Jalen Hurts now also following Brevin Jordan on Twitter. So his last two follows: UM's TE and UM's coach. Wheeeee!
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) January 10, 2019
So, in South Florida they are hopefully that Hurts maybe comes to them.
Obviously, Hurts could also try to transfer to an SEC School, because they have now relaxed the transfer rules on players having to sit out a year, if you do so within that conference.
And there will be a market for the Alabama QB transfer to play somewhere in 2019. The only question for us, for now, is whether FSU or UCF can get themselves in the mix, if interested?
Coaches and rosters finalized for East-West Shrine Bowl
The NFL and the newly-renamed East-West Shrine Bowl are finalizing not only their player rosters, but their coaching staffs for next Saturday’s game in St Petersburg, FL.
Late this week, the longest running college all-star game, the East West Shrine Bowl, named its head coaches, both of whom have ties to the Tampa Bay Area.
Bucs inside linebackers coach Mike Caldwell will coach one of the teams, while former Buccaneers and current Falcons tight end coach, Ben Steele will be in charge of the other.
Caldwell, who came to the Buccaneers in Bruce Arians’ first season has been in the NFL for a total of 11 years and had previously served as the assistant head coach and linebackers coach for the New York Jets under Todd Bowles for 4 seasons.
Steele, who has coached in the NFL for seven seasons reunited with Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter in Atlanta after previously having been his tight end coach in Tampa Bay last year.
Bob Roller, executive director of the East-West Shrine Bowl, said in a statement about the coaching selections,
“We’re very excited to have Mike Caldwell and Ben Steele as head coaches for our East-West Shrine Bowl all-stars,” said Bob Roller, executive director of the East-West Shrine Bowl. “Ben was a coordinator for our 2019 game and both coaches have ties to the Tampa/St. Pete area. They will lead two strong staffs of NFL assistant coaches that will be invaluable to our players as they begin their own journey to the NFL”
Meanwhile, the rosters do have some Florida flair, as several noteworthy names will be on the East team. That’s led by speedy UCF running back Adrian Killins, Gators wide receiver Freddie Swain and USF tight end Mitchell Wilcox. On the East defensive squad, FAU linebacker Rashad Smith, Miami linebacker Shaq quarterman and UCF defensive back Neville Clark are part of the roster.
This will be the 95th playing of the East-West Shrine Bowl and it boasts 71 Pro Football Hall of Famers that have played in their game. And, they also had more than 300 players who were on an NFL roster for Week 1 last year that have played in the East-West Shrine Bowl.
The game also announced that there will be four legendary mentors working with the players in practices later this week in St Pete. Those include: Hall of Fame offensive lineman Will Shields, Super Bowl Champion defensive end Willie McGinest, as well as, long time safety Bobby Taylor and long time wide receiver Amani Toomer.
The game will be played at Tropicana Field, the home of Major League Baseball Tampa Bay Rays and televised nationally on the NFL Network at 3 p.m., Eastern Time next Saturday.
New Year’s Day has prominent teams in Florida Bowls
As the new year begins, traditional college football bowl games will be taking place. And even though there are no Florida teams battling on New Year’s Day, there are two prominent bowl games in the state.
First, two of college football’s “Blue Bloods” play Wednesday afternoon, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Michigan Wolverines will do battle in the VRBO Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
Both programs come off of disappointing end to their regular-season, as they both lost to their rivals. Alabama dropping a wild 48 – 45 game in the Iron Bowl to Auburn and Michigan losing badly 56-27 to Ohio State and their finale at home.
The Tide are without All American caliber quarterback Tua Tagovailoa who suffered a fractured hip late in the year. However, Nick Saban has arguably the best wide receiving corps in all of college football to compensate for Tagovailoa’s absence.
Michigan has perennially under-achieved under coach Jim Harbaugh, but would love nothing better than to score a head-to-head win against Bama in this one.
Meanwhile across I-4 in Tampa, the 25th playing of the Outback Bowl will take place and it’s a first-time matchup between the SEC Auburn Tigers and the big Ten’s Minnesota Golden Gophers.
The Gophers were Darlings of the Big Ten late in the year that they got to 9 – 0 for only the second time in program history before faltering with losses to Iowa and Wisconsin which knock them out of the Big Ten championship game. Their coach P.J. Fleck is the Big Ten coach of the year and has done an amazing job of making Minnesota nationally relevant.
As for the Tigers, we mentioned the victory over Alabama which was particularly sweet for Coach Gus Malzahn, who has been under fire in recent years for not living up to success earlier in the 2010s. Auburn freshman quarterback Bo Nix, the son of the former Auburn star Patrick Nix, leads a high-powered attack that will look to finish the season on a winning note. The Tigers lost their three biggest games of the year to Florida, LSU, and Georgia, but wins over Alabama and Minnesota will help.
The Gophers have had their most important season since they played in the Rose Bowl in 1962 and would love nothing better than to upset the Tigers in this one.