OU football: Jalen Hurts once admired the Longhorns, now he'll get his first chance to face Texas
NORMAN — Jalen Hurts, as he is with most questions this season, was short and to the point when talking about his recruiting relationship with Texas coming out of high school.
“Charlie Strong liked me a lot,” Hurts said. “Ended up not going there.”
But Hurts’ feelings were bit deeper than that, according to Hurts’ father.
In a 2017 interview with 247sports.com, Averion Hurts said his son very much wanted an offer from the Longhorns, saying “Texas was the one.”
“They were kind of like that first girlfriend that broke your heart,” Averion Hurts told the site. “They made him mature real quick. He had a different mindset. He liked Texas and everything.”
Saturday, Hurts gets his first opportunity to play the Longhorns when the Sooners face Texas in the Red River Showdown in the Cotton Bowl (11 a.m., Fox).
Hurts’ fascination with Texas stemmed from watching the Longhorns’ 2005 run to the national championship when he was just 7 years old.
“I liked Vince Young, great player,” Hurts said with his customary brevity before being asked for specifics. “He’s a winner, and he made plays.”
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Hurts attended a Longhorns camp before his junior year, but an injury affected his performance and Texas instead offered Shane Buechele.
Buechele played three seasons for the Longhorns, including playing in a pair of Texas losses to Oklahoma, before transferring to SMU this season.
“He was injured and all of a sudden, it was, ‘Eh,’” Averion Hurts told 247sports. “When they went a different route, he understood how recruiting worked. After that he understood it was about taking care of himself and doing the best that he could.”
After the Sooners beat Kansas on Saturday, Hurts dismissed any thought that the matchup with Texas was any different from any other rivalry he’d been apart of.
“I played in the Iron Bowl,” Hurts said. “I played in big games before. I’ll be all right.”
As Alabama’s starting quarterback, Hurts twice faced Auburn in another of college football’s great rivalries.
As a freshman in 2016, Hurts threw for 286 yards and a pair of touchdowns and ran for another score in the Crimson Tide’s 30-12 win over Auburn. He completed 75 percent of his passes — 27 of 36 — to set an Iron Bowl record in that game.
The next year, he threw for one touchdown in a 26-14 loss at Auburn, though Alabama still made the College Football Playoff and eventually won the national championship.
Last season, he completed a 53-yard pass — the only one he attempted — in the game.
Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said Hurts’ experience in such games will help him this weekend, though Hurts’ demeanor helps as much as anything.
“I don’t think it affects him much,” Riley said. “I think he’s the same guy going out for a Monday walkthrough as he will be going into the Cotton Bowl, honestly.”