For the fifth time in four years, Oklahoma has a Heisman finalist.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts has been named a finalist for the 2019 Heisman Trophy and, as a finalist, will travel to New York City this weekend to take part in the annual festivities.
OU is the first school to produce five finalists in a four-year span. The Sooners were the first program with back-to-back Heisman-winning quarterbacks in 2017 and 2018 when Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray won in consecutive years.
Hurts, a senior and graduate transfer from Alabama, landed in Norman last January shortly after the Crimson Tide beat the Sooners in the College Football Playoff.
On Saturday, after leading OU to its fifth consecutive Big 12 Conference championship, Hurts was asked to assess his place in college football history.
“I’m blessed to be where my feet are,” he said. “I say it all the time: I’m blessed to be with these guys. Coach Riley said it on senior night, or going to practice one of those days, he said, ‘Three years ago, would you ever have thought your senior night would be at Oklahoma? If I said that, you would have thought I was kidding?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I never (would have thought that).
“I told coach (Alex) Grinch after this game, just how crazy it is, if I would have ever thought as a true freshman, starting for coach (Nick) Saban (at Alabama), winning an SEC Championship, going to a national championship, that I would be a Big 12 Champion with the Oklahoma Sooners in three years, I would think he was crazy too.
“But God works in mysterious ways, and I’m blessed to be here with these guys.”
He’ll be making the trip with LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields and Ohio State defensive end Chase Young. Fittingly, all three Heisman-finalist quarterbacks are transfers. Burrow went to Baton Rouge from Ohio State, and Fields went to Columbus from Georgia.
Burrow has been the leader most of the season in several major media straw polls, and he is widely considered the favorite to win this year’s trophy. It’s even been speculated that Burrow’s margin of victory could challenge that of USC’s O.J. Simpson, who won the Heisman in 1968 by receiving the most first-place votes (855) for 2,853 points and beat Purdue’s Leroy Keyes (1,103) by the largest margin ever, 1,750 points.
The 85th Heisman Trophy winner will be announced on Saturday night by the Heisman Trophy Trust at the PlayStation Theater in Times Square. That event will be broadcast on ESPN.
Hurts is OU’s 11th Heisman finalist since finalists were first established in 1982, which is the most of any school. OU also leads the nation since 2000 with 10 Heisman finalists (Alabama has six).
OU’s other Heisman finalists since ’82 were linebacker Brian Bosworth (1986), quarterback Josh Heupel (2000), quarterback Jason White (2003 and 2004), running back Adrian Peterson (2004), quarterback Sam Bradford (2008), wide receiver Dede Westbrook (2016), Mayfield (2016 and ’17) and Murray (2018).
Hurts is also a finalist for the Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Manning Award and Senior CLASS Award.
He leads the nation in yards per pass attempt (11.8; the FBS record is 11.6), yards per completion (16.4), points responsible for per game (23.7; tied with Burrow) and touchdowns accounted for (51; tied with Burrow), while ranking third in total offense (376.1 yards per game) and passer efficiency rating (200.3; the single-season FBS record is 199.4). He also ranks fourth nationally in completion percentage (.718; the OU record is .709 by Baker Mayfield in 2016), and is seventh in rushing touchdowns (18; second among all QBs) and is 10th in passing touchdowns (32).
Hurts averages 279.5 passing yards and 96.5 rushing yards per contest.
The Houston product is one of just two players since 1996 to record at least 32 passing TDs and 18 rushing TDs in a season (Florida’s Tim Tebow had 32 and 23, respectively, in 2007 when he won the Heisman Trophy).
Hurts became only the third FBS player to register at least 3,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards by the 11th game of a season. Louisville’s Lamar Jackson in 2016 and ’17 and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel in 2012 also accomplished the feat. Jackson (2016) and Manziel also won the Heisman Trophy in those years.
Hurts has put up 4,889 yards of total offense (3,634 passing, 1,255 rushing) and ranks second among OU quarterbacks in single-season rushing yards and rushing touchdowns (Jack Mildren had 1,289 rushing yards and 20 rushing TDs in 1971). He is just four total TDs shy of the school record of 55 set by Sam Bradford in 2008.
Oklahoma is tied with Notre Dame and Ohio State for the most Heisman Trophy winners (seven). Sooners with Heismans: Running backs Billy Vessels (1952), Steve Owens (1969), and Billy Sims (1978), and quarterbacks White (2003), Bradford (2008), Mayfield (2017) and Murray (2018).
Formerly co-host of “Further Review” and “The Franchise Drive,” columnist John E. Hoover is a college football insider on The Franchise in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Hoover co-hosts The Franchise “Inside OU” Podcast with Brady Trantham and Rufus Alexander, and the Locked oN Sooners podcast on the Locked oN Podcast Network. He also covers the Big 12 for Sporting News and Lindy’s magazine and is a feature writer for Sooner Spectator magazine. Visit his YouTube channel at YouTube.com/c/JohnHoover, and his personal page at johnehoover.com.