NORMAN, Okla. — Jalen Hurts is a few months removed from facing Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff but found himself in a Sooner jersey on Friday.
In his spring debut for the Sooners, the former Crimson Tide quarterback threw for 174 yards and a touchdown, plus one touchdown on the ground.
Hurts’ relationship with the Sooners is unique, considering OU was just scouting the Tide in last season’s Orange Bowl.
The newcomer, who’s attempting to replace quarterback Kyler Murray as OU’s starter, has already commanded the respect of his new teammates.
"Man's a go-getter, dawg,” said Justin Broiles, a sophomore safety. “He's a true leader. He steps in the room, and you know Jalen Hurts is in the room.”
It wasn’t hard for Hurts to fit in, junior cornerback Tre Brown said.
OU’s players have listened to the quarterback from his first day and enjoyed his energy on the field.
"Jalen's a competitor,” Brown said. “He's going to go at you. He's going to tell you he's going to go at you. And he really stepped up this spring game.”
OU’s offensive linemen have also felt Hurts’ presence in their short time together.
“He definitely walks in with leadership credibility, I'd say, 100 percent,” junior tackle Erik Swenson said. “Guys just kind of levitate to what he has to say and it's kind of impressive, honestly. The magnitude of his leadership skills, that he can just come in, maybe meet the guys for less than 20 minutes and they're already listening to him. It's pretty impressive.”
• Consistency is key: A new mindset is taking shape so far through cornerbacks coach Roy Manning’s first spring in Norman.
Brown said he loves Manning and laughed when asked what he’s learned from the new Sooner assistant.
"He focuses on the bad plays more than the good plays,” Brown said. “It don't matter how many plays that you make ... but the bad plays are the ones we're going to focus on because that's the one that's going to hurt us.
“You can make four (pass break ups) but if you give up a touchdown, who knows? That could be the game-winning touchdown. So, we just have to stay consistent. It's all about being consistent.”
• ‘Just okay’: The Sooner rushing attack didn’t exactly dazzle OU coach Lincoln Riley Friday.
“We didn’t run the ball great, it didn’t feel like,” Riley said. “We popped off that long one there at the end, but other than that, we were just okay in the run game.”
OU's running backs combined for 116 yards, which received a big boost from fullback Jeremiah Hall’s late 45-yard scamper, and three touchdowns on the ground.
T.J. Pledger received a bulk of the carries, rushing for a team-high 51 yards on seven attempts.
Kennedy Brooks, a key 2018 contributor, had only seven yards on three runs and Trey Sermon didn't play in the scrimmage.