Jalen Hurts was entering his second season as Alabama’s starting quarterback when freshman Mac Jones arrived as a redshirt in 2017.
The latter would go on to attempt 13 passes the following year before the former moved on to Oklahoma as a graduate transfer and Tua Tagovailoa continued with the reins of the Crimson Tide depth chart.
But Hurts can see how the situation put Jones, drafted by the New England Patriots one spring after he was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, on the NFL track in due time.
“Mac Jones, he had the opportunity — I think the best way to learn is to watch,” Hurts said in a recent interview with Rick Karle of Birmingham’s WVTM 13. “Watch, take note of those around you, kind of learn the lay of the land, if you will. Learn that way. You know, Mac had a very unique college career where he had to stay patient, and it worked out for him. And I’m happy it did.”
Jones would make four starts under center following Tagovailoa’s season-ending hip injury in 2019. He finished 97-of-141 passing that campaign for 1,503 yards with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Then, up through January’s national title game over Ohio State, Jones set an Alabama record with 4,500 yards through the air to go with 41 touchdowns and four interceptions. The 2020 Davey O’Brien Award winner and consensus first-team All-American did so while completing 77.4 percent of his throws to set the NCAA record.
His late-blooming stay in Tuscaloosa spanned 39 appearances and 17 starts.
“He was able to watch me, Tua go through that, get him some burn here and there,” Hurts told Karle. “Ultimately, when it was his time, he took off with it. And now, he has a great opportunity for his future.”
Jones now resides on a depth chart of four. The No. 15 overall pick nears his initial training camp with the Patriots alongside Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer.