It's one thing to be honored among the peers of your individual sport, but another thing entirely to be recognized as the best in all of sports.
Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, the team's second-round pick out of Oklahoma, was named the Big 12 Male Athlete of the Year on Thursday.
The Heisman Trophy runner-up in his only season at Oklahoma following three years at Alabama, Hurts guided the Sooners to a 12-2 overall record, their fifth-straight Big 12 title, and third appearance in the College Football Playoff.
"He learned about our culture, the way we do things, our players individually," Oklahoma Head Coach Lincoln Riley said of Hurts' ability to make an impact on the team quickly. "He picked his moments to step in and speak, to let them know he wasn't just coming in here to better himself, but he wanted to come in here and win a championship and be a part of a successful team at Oklahoma."
The 6-1, 223-pound Hurts accounted for 53 total touchdowns, throwing for 3,851 yards and 32 touchdowns, rushing for 1,298 yards and 20 scores, and hauling in one receiving touchdown for good measure. Ironically, for all of his individual success, Hurts ingratiated himself with his new teammates by only focusing on team goals.
"He just wants to do whatever he can to help the team win, whatever his role is," Riley added.
One of the signature moments from the 2019 season, Riley noted, was a touchdown pass that Hurts threw in the Big 12 Championship Game triumph over Baylor. With the game tied at 13-13 late in the third quarter, Hurts pinpointed a perfect back-shoulder throw to the opposite hash in tight coverage for a touchdown.
Hurts' incredible season at Oklahoma was preceded by an impressive three-year stint at Alabama where he won the starting job as a true freshman. He was a part of three teams that reached the National Championship Game and won it once. Hurts went 38-4 as a starter. He is the first player to start for two different programs in the College Football Playoff, reaching the tournament in all four seasons.