The first half of the College Football National Championship game went swimmingly for the Georgia Bulldogs, as the Alabama Crimson Tide quickly fell behind.
During the first two quarters of the game, Alabama starting quarterback Jalen Hurts completed only three passes for 21 yards, a feat that angered head coach Nick Saban enough to bench Hurts at the start of the second half.
As a result, true freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa took the field, according to The Washington Post. During the Tide’s second possession of the second half, Tagovailoa led his team down the field to a touchdown, making the score 13 to 7, with Georgia still in the lead.
The first person out on the field to congratulate the freshman was the original starting quarterback, Hurts.
25-2 as a starter
Leads Alabama to back-to-back National Title games
Struggles and gets benched at halftime
Does nothing but support his teammate through the rest of the game
— Tim England (@tengland150) January 9, 2018
The poise and sportsmanship Hurts exhibited throughout what was expected to be a difficult time for him made Alabama fans very proud.
Following Alabama’s incredible overtime win — thanks to a 41-yard bomb from Tagovailoa to wide receiver DeVonta Smith — a reporter asked Hurts what his initial thoughts were after he learned the freshman quarterback was going to get the start instead of him.
We should all show as much class as Jalen Hurts did in this interview.
Roll Tide, kid. pic.twitter.com/lL50KcSbDf
— Due# (@JDue51) January 9, 2018
His responses were pure class:
“He was just going to step in and do his thing. You know, we have a lot of guys in the QB room who play really well and he’s just stepped in and did his thing, did his thing for the team.”
Later, when asked why he was “right there in every offensive huddle,” Hurts explained that he just wanted Tagovailoa to know that he needed to “ball”:
“Play your game. Ball. You know, he is destined for stuff like this. He’s built for stuff like this, he has the ‘IT’ factor, and I’m so happy for him and for this team.”
And Hurts’s elegance didn’t go unnoticed:
Jalen Hurts, 19, in the most public, defining moment of his young life displayed the kind of uncommon character, grace and sportsmanship not seen in college sports in decades.
A young man smiled at adversity.
If we could all be Jalen Hurts. https://t.co/B67bagl7Wn
— Chris Martin Palmer (@ChrisPalmerNBA) January 9, 2018
Every player who’s ever hung his head sitting on a bench should watch video of Jalen Hurts tonight.
— Bob Walsh (@CoachBobWalsh) January 9, 2018
Congratulations, Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa, and the rest of the Alabama Crimson Tide football team.