SUPER BOWL LVII: Hurts "Normal kid with different dreams"
While Jalen Hurts has become a nationally-recognized, household name quarterbacking the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl, the former Channelview Falcon was launched into stardom on an October night in 2014 at Galena Park ISD Stadium as a slippery junior quarterback running his father’s offense.
The Eastside is synonymous with North Shore High School, right?
Well, a few blocks over is Channelview High – right in the industrial-plex of Houston. The Falcons aren’t a high school football power. In fact, Channelview hasn’t won a playoff game in 30 years.
But in early October of 2014, a star was born.
Channelview had never beaten North Shore… ever. Older brother Averion Hurts Jr. (passing game coordinator at Summer Creek) couldn’t do it prior to Jalen, and it took a 38-yard Hail Mary with no time left to beat the “Beasts of the East” 49-48 in an instant classic. A legacy was cemented and Hurts' future was set in motion.
“He was a heck of a football player. He just made stuff happen. When he threw that Hail Mary to beat us when he was a junior, I’ll never forget it,” Kay said. “He’s done that his whole career, though. People didn’t think he could do it at Alabama… he did. Then he goes to Oklahoma and people thought… maybe other quarterbacks were catching up to him. Then he stars at OU and finishes second in the Heisman Trophy voting. Surely, the league (NFL) will be the great separator? Now, he’s in the Super Bowl.”
That game would put Hurts at the epicenter of the recruiting radar for 2015. Recruiting analysts would have to Mapquest where Channelview High School was to come witness the next big thing in the Bayou City.
“Channelview had always been a program that stuggled for playoff appearances and big wins,” 247Sports Recruiting Analyst Brian Perroni said. “Jalen was just plain special that night. He showed he could lead the big underdogs to a huge win with his arm and legs against North Shore. That win got a lot of eyes on him from a recruiting standpoint.”
Channelview coach Averion Hurts is a soft-spoken leader, who believes in hard work and being a good teammate. No frills, just old school. Quiet. His words very measured.
Makes sense. That’s where Jalen Hurts gets his ‘head-down”, laser-focused mindset from. It’s also where he gets his “team first” philosophy… see his time at Alabama.
“He’s been through some growing pains during his career, but all of those adversities have made him better as a player and stronger as a man,” Hurts said. “Look, he was just a normal kid growing up. He just had different dreams. Once he figured out what he wanted to do, he worked for it. That’s just always been him, very determined.”
As a freshman at Alabama, Hurts was the SEC Offensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year – but fell 35-31 in the National Championship Game against Clemson. He would lead the Tide to the 2018 Title Game against Georgia, where he would be pulled for Tua Tagovailoa. Alabama won 26-23. He was the back-up for much of 2018 as Bama would fall to Clemson again in the 2019 Title Game.
Off the Oklahoma went Hurts with his workmanlike attitude and winning persona. He would lead the Sooners to the College Football, eventually losing to LSU in the semis. He finished second to LSU's Joe Burrow for the Heisman Trophy.
Jalen would be drafted by Philadelphia in the second round with the 53rd overall pick. He was named the starter late in the season for coach Doug Pederson, who would be fired at the end of the season.
Hurts would lead the Eagles to the playoffs last season under the direction of coach Nick Sirianni, before falling to Tampa Bay in the Wild Card Round.
This season has been a storybook for the Channelview Falcon, finishing as one of five finalists for the NFL MVP Award.
So, what’s been the difference?
“I just wanted to see what he could do in the same offense for two years,” Averion said. “With the same people. He hasn’t had the same play-caller for two years since he played in high school. When everything from the neck up slows down, everything else speeds up for you as quarterback. If you are having to learn a new system every year, you are not gonna get that natural next step. With this second year, you are able to add stuff to a foundation you have already built. The game seems a lot easier. You know where to go with the ball. You know where the reads are. You are just maturing in the position, basically.”
As the Eastside of Houston roots on one of their own, the Hurts family will head to Glendale, Arizona to the Super Bowl.
“He is really proud of the fact that he has been able to bring us and his grandparents along for the ride,” Averion said. “We have enjoyed the heck out of it.”
Channelview hasn’t beaten North Shore since that magical night in 2014. The night that Jalen Hurts, became “Jalen Hurts”. His legacy lives on as he continues to represent Houston’s #Eastside in the sport's biggest game of the year.
“The Hail Mary is not a fond memory for me because he beat us,” said North Shore’s Kay. “My fondest memory had to have been at the district track meet that Spring, though. The 4x100-relay was being held up, I was told, by a shot putter. I thought they were joking… a shot putter in a sprint relay? It was Jalen Hurts. He won the meet in the shot and came over and ran the relay.
"From an outsider, you could see he did everything through hard work and class. What a great, respectful young man. His father taught him well.”