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Maryland football misses on Jalen Hurts as former Alabama QB picks Oklahoma

The Terps were serious contenders for the prized grad transfer, but he’s heading to Norman.

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Hurts has made his decision, and it’s not Maryland. The former Alabama grad transfer quarterback is heading to Oklahoma, he announced Wednesday in The Players’ Tribune.

The Terps were squarely in the mix for Hurts, who explored graduate transfer options after the Crimson Tide’s season ended in the national title game. He visited Maryland, Oklahoma and Miami last weekend. While Hurts’ relationship with Maryland head coach Mike Locksley made it a sensible fit, the Houston native evidently couldn’t turn down the Sooners.

Hurts became one of the most sought-after free agents in college football history after a roller coaster of a career at Alabama. He became the first true freshman quarterback to start for Alabama in 32 years, won SEC Offensive Player of the Year in 2016 and led his team to a 26-2 record as a starter. But with his team trailing Georgia in the national title game, Nick Saban turned to Tua Tagovailoa, who led a championship comeback and didn’t relinquish the starting job.

In his first two years, Hurts completed 61.9 percent of his passes for a total of 4,861 yards, throwing 40 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. Backing up Tagovailoa in 2018, he went 51-for-70 (72.9 percent) for 765 yards, eight touchdowns and two picks. He turned in a signature performance in relief of an injured Tagovailoa in the SEC title game, leading Alabama to a comeback victory over Georgia himself.

With Hurts not in the picture for Maryland, redshirt junior Tyrrell Pigrome is on track to start for the Terps this season. He’s not Hurts, but the dual-threat signal caller has showed flashes throughout his career. Maryland’s primary starter last season, Kasim Hill, is expected to miss most if not all of 2019 as he rehabs his second torn ACL. The Terps’ other scholarship quarterbacks are redshirt junior Max Bortenschlager (who’s reportedly considered transferring) and redshirt freshman Tyler DeSue. Maryland has a verbal commitment from three-star 2019 prospect David Summers, but he hasn’t signed.

Maryland has a long history of coming up just short in recruiting and transfer sweepstakes like this one, and while some believe Locksley can start winning more of those battles, he couldn’t make this dream scenario come true.