By Michael Kinney
The odds were stacked against Oklahoma from the start. Despite the incredible season Jalen Hurts produced, the chances of the Sooners producing three straight Heisman Trophy winners were going to be tough to cash in.
Yet, on Saturday night, Hurts was one of four finalists on stage at the New York Downtown Club for the Heisman presentation. But unlike that last two years, it was not a Sooners’ name who was called.
LSU quarterback Joe Barrow earned the 2018 Heisman Trophy in a runaway vote. In his only season at Oklahoma, Hurts was the runner-up.
The Sooners are the only program to ever produce five Heisman finalists in a four-year span. Hurts is the third transfer quarterback to OU to become a finalist.
“It was a very eventful weekend that only happens once in a lifetime, especially for a guy like me who’s in his last year of ball,” Hurts said. “It was something that felt really special, especially considering the opportunity I had to expose my family to certain things that I experience. Having my family around was great.”
Burrow racked up 841 first-place votes and 2,608 points. He won by the largest spread in the history of the award.
Hurts still accounted well for himself with 762 points and 12 first-place votes/ That was more than enough to hold off third-place finisher, Josh Fields of Ohio State and fourth place Chase Young, also of Ohio State.
Oklahoma State tailback, Chuba Hubbard, placed eighth. He was not invited to the ceremony.
Hurts was the 11th Sooner invited to New York since Heisman Trophy finalists were first named in 1982, the most nationally. He was also OU’s nation-leading 10th Heisman finalist since 2000, which is four more than the school with the next most during the span (Alabama has six).
It took a special season from Burrow to keep Hurts from taking home the award. Yet, Hurts numbers stack up with anyone who has ever taken home the Heisman.
Hurts has compiled 4,889 yards of total offense (3,634 passing, 1,255 rushing) and is 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.
Hurts 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) and touchdowns accounted for (51; tied), while ranking third in total offense (376.1 ypg) and passing efficiency rating (200.3; the single-season FBS record is 199.4). He also ranks fourth nationally in completion percentage (.718; OU record is .709 by Baker Mayfield in 2016), seventh in rushing touchdowns (18; second among QBs) and 10th in passing touchdowns (32). He averages 279.5 passing yards and 96.5 rushing yards per contest.
Yet, all of that is seemingly secondary to Hurts with the Sooners still in the hunt for a national championship.
Oklahoma will play Burrow and his No. 1 ranked LSU Tigers in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Peach Bowl on Dec. 28. Even as he was surrounded by the glitz and trappings of New York, his mind was firmly on the task at hand.
“Just coming here (to Oklahoma), I think my whole purpose was to have opportunities to accomplish things that we want to accomplish as a team,” Hurts said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for us as a team, to take advantage of this time, work really hard and prepare to play our best ball. I’m anxious to get back with our guys and get back to work.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider