Jalen Hurts is part of an interesting situation.
“Yeah,” Baker Mayfield chuckled. “Pretty interesting.”
Hurts spent plenty of the past spring watching highlights of Mayfield and Kyler Murray — quarterbacks who, as Hurts will attempt, parlayed transfers to Oklahoma into wild success.
But Hurts needs to be himself: That Mayfield’s advice to the OU quarterback, who’s filling the large shoes of two consecutive Heisman Trophy winners and top overall draft picks.
“I’d say it was the same thing I told Kyler [Murray],” Mayfield said last week while in Norman for his youth camp. “He doesn’t need to try and do anything we did. He needs to do his game, that’s good enough. There’s a reason he’s here, there’s a reason he’s a national champion.
“Him being a leader, he needs to continue that first and foremost.”
That appears to have been Hurts’ biggest contribution since his transfer from Alabama.
Everyone from Mayfield to current OU coaches and players highlight his potential to command teammates. Lincoln Riley has mentioned it since January and did so again this week while speaking with SiriusXM radio.
In the public eye, Hurts' leadership debut was projected in a viral tweet of him squatting nearly 600 pounds in February, while swarmed by teammates.
“This was his first time maxing with us, the first time putting on all that weight with us, so it was a good thing to see from a leader,” sophomore H-back Brayden Willis said. “You just see that this guy has really bought into the program and everything like that. Seeing him do that, you think, ‘This is a guy we can get behind. This is a guy who can lead us.’”
Regular updates on Hurts’ skill and progress in Riley’s offense have ceased since his transfer from Alabama, with spring practice media sessions over and coaches limited to players during the summer, per NCAA rules.
Still, Riley says summer gets overlooked as an opportunity for QBs to separate themselves from competition. Hurts has not won the position officially, though most expect he’ll earn the job over freshman Spencer Rattler and redshirt freshman Tanner Mordecai.
Hurts has diligently watched OU games from the past two seasons.
“I don't necessarily have [a quarterback] in front of me to watch, so I'm watching a lot of [Mayfield, Murray] film and I'm learning from other guys in the room,” Hurts said after OU’s Red-White scrimmage.
He has even reached out to Mayfield and Murray.
"If I didn't call those guys, and ask those guys questions, and watch those guys' game films, I'd be digging a hole for myself,” Hurts said. “I’m trying to learn as much as I can."
Mayfield isn’t as concerned about that part of Hurts’ transition.
“Lincoln will do a great job of adapting to whatever he’s best at,” he said. “Throughout the process of the offseason he’ll learn the offense and we’ll see.”
Most importantly, it’s Hurts’ experience and ability to rally teammates, a skill Mayfield and Murray both demonstrated.
That’s what excited Mayfield most when he heard OU was getting a third consecutive high-profile transfer quarterback.
“I thought it was great,” he said. “Leadership-wise, it’s just good for the program, you know, with the drop-off it could’ve been with leadership and age. But with Jalen stepping in I think it’s gonna be good.”